Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Bibliography on absence and a question

Guha's article (discussed in this post), though thought-provoking, has a weak point, i.e., the fact that the author ignores much interesting material on the topic of absence (even on the smaller topic of absence in Nyāya and Mīmāṃsā), a topic to which I will dedicate a separate post. I am in a conflict of interests, since I wrote three articles on absence in Mīmāṃsā (they can be found on, here, here and here), but I am not talking about my work. Arindam Chakrabarti's great book Denying existence : the logic, epistemology, and pragmatics of negative existentials and fictional discourse (1997) is just ignored, and so are Schmithausen's (1965) comprehensive study of error in Indian philosophy (a topic closely connected to that of absence, since one might claim that in the case of error one grasps something non-existing) and Birgit Kellner's book (1997) and article (1997—but written well thereafter) on this topic.
Such works would have helped Guha to distinguish the topic of ontology as an "inventory of the world" from that of the padārthas, which are —in my opinion— not just part of this inventory, as proven by categories such as samavāya 'inherence', which could hardly figure in an inventory, although they are needed to make sense of the world in an economical way.
Further, Guha refers  to the view that "Most of the Indian schools that were interested in ontological categoriology began their journey from linguistic intuitions" (p. 113), without taking into account Bronkhorst's (Brill 1999, previously published in French) position about it (he refers, instead, to "Professor Gangadhar Kar", with no indication of any work).

Thus, to the question:
With today's Google Scholar and the like, can ignoring essential literature still be excused? Does reading enhance one's philosophical results or is it only pedantic?

For my praise of reading, see here. For the post on Guha's article, see here (be sure to check the interesting comments).

Monday, July 29, 2013

Difficult Apologetics: How to justify evil prescriptions in the Sacred Texts

Philosophers or "free thinkers" may abruptly dismiss whatever they don't understand or believe to be false in a Sacred Text —or even decide not to open one at all. But theologians and authors of apologetics have a much tougher task: they must make sense of everything within a Sacred Text —even what seems to be immoral or unjust.

The most well-known example in Indian apologetics is that of the Śyena-sacrifice. This is a malevolent ritual which is prescribed in the Veda with the words: "The one who wants to harm his enemy should sacrifice with the malevolent ritual Śyena''. Opposers easily used it as an evidence of the flaws in the Veda, whereas Mīmāṃsakas had to reconcile it with the ideal of non-violence, also believed to be of Vedic origin. One of the solutions is that of stressing the adhikārins, i.e., the people who are responsible for performing the sacrifice. The sacrifice is not, it is explained, prescribed to everyone, but only to the ones who "want to harm their enemies". This is  something one should never desire to do, thus, they are already committing something prohibited and in this sense the Vedic prescription about the Śyena is a way to bring these evil ones under the control of the Veda (śaṭhacittaśāstravaśatopāyo 'bhicāraśrutiḥ, Parāśara Bhaṭṭa).

Today it came to my mind that this is the same way Jesus Christ used to "rescue" the Mosaic permission to repudiate one's wife. Consider Matthew 19.3–9, where some Pharisees come, as it is often the case in the Gospel narrations, to Jesus in order to test him with a conundrum he would not be able to solve, namely, the seeming contradiction between the cruelty of repudiating one's wife and the fact that this practice is sanctioned by Moses (De 24:1-4):

"Why then," they [=the Pharisees] asked, "did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?"
Jesus replied, "Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard […]." (International Version 2011)

Do you see it? Jesus is using the same device as the Mīmāṃsakas, i.e., saying that the passage in the Sacred Text which seems unjust is in fact the best possible solution for the (cruel) people it addresses and that the prescription is in fact not a general order, but an ad hoc permission, focusing on the ones who would not have been able to follow the best way.

Do you know of other instances of this apologetic move? Do you think the parallel holds?

On the Śyena conundrum you can read also this post.

Friday, July 26, 2013

How to be an excellent Tibetologist and land in a Marie Curie Fellowship: an Interview with Michela Clemente

I met Michela Clemente because we both studied at the faculty of Oriental Studies at "La Sapienza" in Rome and most of all because we studied together Tibetan at the IsIAO. She wrote her MA thesis on a 17th century religious master, Kun spangs pa Chos kyi rin chen, by translating his life-story, which was an uncommon type of biography and, to her knowledge, the only preserved copy of this text. The inner typology is so far the less-studied and least known among Tibetan biographies. She is thus the first scholar who translated a Tibetan “inner biography” into a European language (for further details on this genre of biographies and on Michela’s work in particular, see Clemente 2008).
Then, she wrote her PhD thesis on lHa btsun Rin chen rnam rgyal (1473-1557) a master who had a leading role in Tibetan printing history. Beside her interest for the contents of the works she has been dealing with, and for the genre of biographies in general, she has also been researching on their form, i.e., on Tibetan xylographies. These are woodblock prints and have been used since the beginning of the 15th Century in Tibet. Against in the case of modern printing with movable characters, the whole page was engraved in wood and then used as a stamp. Michela has been outlining some key elements for a philology of Tibetan xylographies (printing school, colophons, etc.). You can find, e.g., an abstract of her contribution on this topic to the first Coffee Break Conference here; the full article has been published on RSO 2011. She is now in Cambridge with a Marie Curie fellowship.

EF: What is your current project about?

MC: My current project is about Tibetan printings. It is entitled Tibetan Book Evolution and Technology. This is correlated to an international project entitled Transforming Technologies and Buddhist Book Culture: the Introduction of Printing and Digital Text Reproduction in Tibetan Societies, organized by the University of Cambridge (MIASU) in collaboration with the British Library and funded by the British Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), which started in 2010 and in which I am involved. My project will study extant early Tibetan prints from the South Western area, where the first printing houses of Tibet were set up, in order to understand the introduction of xylography as a complex process involving technical, economic, political and religious factors. The project will focus on the 15th–early 16th century xylographs from various libraries in the UK (Cambridge University Library, Bodleian Library, British Library, Liverpool Library) as well as other prints from the National Archives of Kathmandu, numerous libraries in Tibet and from the Tucci Tibetan Collection of the IsIAO Library in Rome. By focusing on the study of these early prints a great deal of codicological information will be produced. This will be used to supplement the historical information from the texts and provide the starting point for a new method of identification of early prints based on book features. I will examine the texts according to codicological standards and in co-operation with experts from different disciplines thus obtaining the fullest understanding of all aspects of the texts through:

  1. 1) materials analysis [paper, ink, pigments];
  2. 2) the style of the edition [front page, layout, ductus, orthographic peculiarities, woodcut representations];
  3. 3) book cover typology (if present); 
  4. 4) the study of the colophon.

EF: Do you interact with colleagues working on similar topics but with South Asian and/or Western materials?

MC: I am interacting with colleagues at the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies in Cambridge, who are working on a AHRC project which focuses on Sanskrit Manuscripts preserved at the Cambridge University Library. Within the AHRC project on Tibetan book, we are also organizing a workshop on printing as an agent of change in Tibet and beyond, which will involve experts of Japanese, Chinese and Indian prints as well.

EF: Which topics do you envision as the more urgent priorities in your field of study? What would you recommend as a topic for, e.g., a young graduate student looking for a theme for his/her PhD thesis?

MC: Tibetan culture is plenty of topics to deepen and I can’t say which one has the highest priority. Furthermore, I think that each young student should choose something fascinating to him/her. Passion is what leads a scholar to continue his studies despite difficulties. It is not easy to carry on research, especially in Italy, and especially in this field. There are numerous texts that have not been translated yet and that are now available. There are collaborative projects that are investigating different facets of Tibetan culture. If students who are interested in Tibetan culture would like to contact me, they can write me at this address.

EF: You managed to get a prestigious scholarship. Apart from your expertise on this field, what was the key of this success? What would you recommend to colleagues and readers?

MC: It is necessary to find the right institution which will host you. It must have an experienced and well-trained staff. The credibility of the institution is extremely relevant. The presentation of the project is also really important. The topic of the project must be comprehensible for anybody and it should be presented in a fascinating way. Do not write the application as a scientific article. Try to write as simple as possible. Do not use Tibetan or Sanskrit terms. People that evaluate these applications are researchers of all disciplines and also managers, publicists, and so on. Graphs and charts are appreciated as well as pictures. Take into consideration outreach activities for a wider audience. It is important that the project is useful not only to deepen one or more aspects of your field, but also for the community. Before submitting the application, ask someone who is not a specialist in your field to read it. If it is comprehensible to him/her, then you can submit it. You also need someone who help you with the preparation of the application. Many faculties have people who do this as part of their job. Your curriculum is another important part of the application, especially publications. If you manage to create a collaborative project, it would be something particularly interesting. Try to start the preparation of the application some months before the deadline or you will be forced to do it as a full-time job! Good luck!

EF: More in general, what would you recommend to prospective scholars/younger colleagues?

MC: I would recommend graduate students to publish as soon as possible and as much as possible, to participate in conferences, workshops etc, to interact with colleagues and scholars across the world, to collaborate to any kind of initiative or project of universities, cultural associations and institutions. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Last Updates about my volume on quotations

This is the provisional Table of Content of the forthcoming volume on the analysis of the reuse in Indian philosophical texts. Beside each title you can find its state of advancement.

Preface, by Raffaele Torella

The re-use of texts in Indian Philosophy, by Elisa Freschi (Vienna, ÖAW) [as usual, I still need to finish my own introduction, but I have a good excuse, since I am linking to the articles]


Quotations, References, and the Re-Use of texts in the Early Nyāya Tradition, by Payal Doctor (CUNY-LaGuardia Community College) [ready]

Types of quotations as connected to the types of siddhānta in the Nyāyamañjarī 6, by Alessandro Graheli (Vienna) [1st draft]

Dharmottara’s Re-Use of Arguments from the Kṣaṇabhaṅgasiddhi in the Pramāṇaviniścayaṭīkā, by Masamichi Sakai (Cambridge, Massachusetts / Tokyo) [ready]

Quotations of the Kāśikāvṛtti in Grammatical texts and the manuscript transmission of the Kāśikāvṛtti, by Malhar Kulkarni (IIT Mumbai) [ready]

Āgamārthānusāribhiḥ. Helārāja’s use of quotations and other referential devices in his commentary on the Vākyapadīya, by Vincenzo Vergiani (Cambridge) [ready]

Quotations, References, etc. A glance on a late Mīmāṃsaka's writing habits, by Elisa Freschi (Vienna, ÖAW) [waiting for the author's answers to herself…]

Quotations and (lost) commentaries in Advaita Vedānta: Some philological notes on the 'Fragments' of Bhartr̥prapañca, by Ivan Andrijanić (Zagreb) [ready]

“Old is Gold!” Madhusūdana Sarasvatī’s way of referring to earlier textual tradition, by Gianni Pellegrini (Turin) [minor things still to be settled, waiting for the author's answers and for the English revision to be completed]

The Case of the Sārasaṅgaha. Reflections on the Reuse of Texts In Medieval Singalese Pāli Literature, by Chiara Neri (Rome "Sapienza") [ready]

The creative erudition of Chapaṭa Saddhammajotipāla, a 15th-century grammarian and philosopher from Burma, by Aleix Ruiz-Falqués (Cambridge) [minor things still to be settled, waiting for the author's answers]

The introduction of canonical and non canonical quotations in Pāli commentarial literature, by Petra Kieffer-Pülz (Mainz, AWL) [in my hands for a final check]


Commenting by quoting. The case of Manorathanandin's Pramāṇavārttikavr̥tti, by Cristina Pecchia (Vienna) [1st draft]

Text re-use in early Tibetan epistemological treatises, by Pascale Hugon (Vienna, ÖAW) [ready]

A discussion of some problems related to the Madhyamakaratnapradīpa with particular attention to the quotation from Saraha’s Dohākośagīti, by Krishna Del Toso (Trieste) [3rd draft, waiting for the author's answers]

"As it is said in a Sūtra": Liberty and Variation in Tibetan quotations from the Buddhist scriptures, by Ulrike Rösler (Oxford) [ready]


Quotations in Vedic Literature: is the changing of a mantra a stylistic device or the degeneration of a “beautiful mind?, by Elena Mucciarelli (Tübingen) [minor things still to be settled, waiting for the author's answers]

The verb vijñāyate as a quotation mark from the śruti in the Āśvalāyanaśrautasūtra, by Pietro Chierichetti (Turin) [almost ready, English still needs to be reviewed]

To borrow or not to borrow? The case of "vaibhavīyanarasiṃhakalpa" within the scope of Pāñcarātra literature, by Ewa Debicka-Borek (Krakow) [in my hands for a final check]

Observations on the Use of Quotations in Sanskrit Dharmanibandhas, by Florinda De Simini (Naples/Turin) [minor things still to be settled, waiting for the author's answers]

Re-use in artistic field: the iconography of Yakṣī, by Cristina Bignami (Cagliari) [ready]

Any suggestion concerning the sections' titles, their sequence, their internal organization, etc.? (I am grateful to Elena Mucciarelli for discussing the topic with me and helping me in assembling the papers in this partly new way).

Monday, July 22, 2013

अाप्तवचनविषये कन्तमहोदयस्य मतम्

कन्तमहोदयस्य न्याय-(Logik)विषये प्रकरणेषु कन्तमहोदयेनाप्तवचनं प्रमाणेषु स्वीकृतमिति भाति ।
१ । इन्द्रियानुभवो न सर्वदा संभवति । बहुत्र, अाप्तवचनमेकैव प्रमाणम् ।
२ । अाप्तवचनं सर्वेषामुपयोगपूर्णम्, स्वज्ञानानां सम्यक्करणार्थम् । यदा यदा देवदत्तः "अात्मनः ब्रह्मणश्चाद्वैतम्" इति वदन् यज्ञदत्तेन "अात्मनः ब्रह्मणश्च विशिष्टाद्वैतम्" इति वदता सह मिलति, तदा तदा उभयोः स्वज्ञानानां विषये पर्येषणा कार्या । "देवदत्तो न भवेयं किमहं 'अात्मनः ब्रह्मणश्चाद्वैतम्' इति चिन्तयेयम्?" इति । तथा च यज्ञदत्तेन कार्यम् । इत्थम्, स्वज्ञानां सम्यक्करणार्थं संभाषणं कार्यम् । न तु, प्रलपनमात्रार्थम् ।
३ । पुरुषाः स्वभवतः संभाषणप्रियाः । यो "ममान्येषामाप्तवचनं न किंचिदेव" इति चिन्तति, सः स्वाय्यन्येषु चापराध्नोति ।

प्रलपनं तु न करणीयम्, यथा "देवदत्तेनैतत् कृतम्" ।
१ । यद्यपि "देवदत्तेनैतत् कृतम्" इति सत्यम्, तथापि न वदनीयम्, एकस्य दुष्कृतानि श्रुत्वा "सर्वे दुष्कृतानि कुर्वन्ति । मम पुरुषानां न को ऽपि विश्वासो ऽतिवर्तते" इति मतिर्न भूत् ।
२ । यदि  "देवदत्तेनैतत् कृतम्" इति प्रलपनम् असत्यं, तर्हि न वदनीयम् । असत्यं वदन् पुरुषः स्वमेव माहात्म्यमतिचरति । सो ऽसत्यं वदन् न पुरुषः, किन्तु लपनकुशलं यन्त्रमिव भवति ।
३ । ये तु कल्पितकथाः वदन्ति, यथा "एतानि पुष्पानि खदित्वा पुनः स्वस्थो भविष्यसि" इति, ते अाप्तानामपराध्नन्ति । तेषां कथाः श्रुत्वा, पुरुषाणाम् "अद्यापि स्वस्थो नास्मि, अाप्ता अप्यनप्ताः!" इति मतस्योद्भावनात् ।

एतस्मिन् विषये, एतत् गेल्‌फेर्त्महोदयेन (Axel Gelfert) विरचितं प्रकरणं पठनीयम् ।
कन्तमहोदयेन प्रथमविचारस्य प्रथमभाग इहानुवादितः ।

Friday, July 19, 2013

How can one…get a post-Doc position/decide in which area to specialise/publish enough etc.?

Beginning with next week and usually on the last Friday each month, I will post interviews of young colleagues asking them about the "secret" of their success, hoping that this will help filling the gap between students and ex-students and full professors who seem beyond reach.
I will ask questions such as "What did you do right to land in your actual position?" and "What would you recommend to younger colleagues?", but also "What do you
think needs to be researched in your area of specialization?" and "What are your research strategies?".

What would you like to know? Suggestions for questions are welcome!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Repetitions in religious texts

illustration of the Egyptian litany of Re
Why do texts contain repetitions? Just because they reproduce oral formulas? If so, there is no need to translate them wholly, since today's readers have the text in a book (or a pdf) and can go back to it whenever they want. If, by contrast, we want to keep repetitions in our translations, this might be a sign of the fact that we are sensing that they might have a deeper meaning.
In an interesting post, which does not allow comments (this is why I am writing my thoughts about it here), Naomi Appleton discusses the problems a translator faces while trying to translate Buddhist Jātakas, since they are full of repetitions.

Repetitions are surely a major challenge, especially for contemporary readers and translators (as Naomi notes here, many Sanskrit texts are already boring enough!). However, besides orality, I would add that repetitions may have a transformative effect: it seems to be not a coincidence that many religions have emphasised the importance of repeating formulas/litanies/etc. I guess that the rationale behind it is the idea that by repeating a sentence you are not merely repeating it, you are allowing the text to work deeper within your psyche, so that you will start to savour all the text's "hidden" meanings. For instance, the first time you read about the glorification of the Buddha you will just savour its literary value, the next time, its narrative role within the plot, but after the third one you might start feeling yourself within the group of kinnaras, gandharvas, etc., who are praising the Buddha… 

Which other purposes may a repetition have in today's world? By the last words I mean to exclude mnemonic and rythmic purposes, which are of minor importance for today's readers.
I hinted at this topic already here.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Sanskrit Tantric Dictionaries

Can one trust dictionaries? Of course not, and not only because they are incomplete or inaccurate, but also because they pretend to represent an objective stand, although they are in fact (like any other human product) the result of also a precise agenda. Moreover, the agenda is even more dangerous if it is not acknowledged, thus:
  1. 1. be sure you read the preface of (e.g.) the Monier Williams' dictionary and be cautious once you have become aware of his Christian-proselytist agenda.
  2. 2. be even more cautious with works who do not explicitly discuss the aim of their enterprise (i.e., their prayojanaprayojana).

As part of (1) my project of reading more, (2) my project of supporting younger colleagues, I have recently decided to read more unpublished materials by graduate students and discovered on this paper by Nisha Ramayya on the Monier Williams and its androcentric standpoint. The article is enjoyable and stimulating, since it focuses most of all on Tantric terms, an interesting case-study, given that MW is very much against feminine cults, "witchcraft" and related practices.
I only regret the fact that the author did not take into account other dictionaries, and especially the much more specific Tantrikābhidhānakośa. I hope she will enlarge her paper into a publishable article by including a discussion about it.

What are your experiences with Sanskrit general and specific dictionaries?

For a short summary on my views about general Sanskrit dictionaries, check this post. For my praise of reading, see this post. On the need to work as a team, see this post.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Again on artists vs. communicators in Sanskrit (and) philosophy

Some scholars consider their articles like works of art: they should not be touched by the impure hands of the editor or unworthy reader, nor by the impure questions of an unworthy listener. They react to the basic question asked by a younger colleague like a handsome man if courted by an older and not-so-beautiful woman. They also panick at the idea of their articles or books being copied and whenever they need to share a file, they use all possible safety options.

Others focus on communicating some basic facts, independently of the form thorugh which these are communicated. Thus, they might accept all sorts of formal changes (but would fight streneously if they think the content is right and the editor wants to modify it), rejoice because of any basic question (the basic question asked by a younger colleague is for them the sign of his/her interest and attention), share files not only with colleagues, but with as wide a public as possible and so on. They are surprised when they discover that someone has plagiarised their work —as if this were not the point of what they are doing.

Thus, here is a primer guide for dealing with both:


What else am I missing in the table?
 As it is probably easy to tell (given that I write a blog), I belong to the second group. Thus, I keep on hurting the feelings of people belonging to the first group. Consequently, if you are an "artist", please let me know what else hurts you.

My first post dedicated to the discovery of these two categories is here.

"There are two kinds of people in the world: those who divide the world into two kinds of people, and those who don't" – Robert Benchley (and the present writer belongs to the first category —unfortunately).

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Short Announcement concerning comments

I will be out of town over the next weeks, with little or no internet access and will therefore disable "Anonymous" comments, which are the main source of spam for this blog. Please be sure to post your comments with an Open ID or in any other way.

The possibility of anonymous comments will be resumed in August.

Posts will continue to be published on a regular basis.

Friday, July 5, 2013

What can one delegate in an Indological (and/or) philosophical project?

I tried hard to explain to the authors I have been working with that they have to be consistent in their editorial choices. In some cases, this works, but more often than not, I end up having to re-do all on my own. And, in fact, one does have the right to ignore editorial rules and to focus instead on her research's contents. (Incidentally, this is why I am not completely convinced by D. Wujastyk's appealing arguments about the fact that one no longer needs publishing houses).
After having discussed for months with every author I have been working with, I decided I will no longer try to do all. My time is valuable and I prefer to spend money, than to employ it to correct commas.

Concretely, I will delegate (to the author, if she can handle them, or to someone else if she just cannot) the following tasks:

  1. —check of bibliographical entries and of references within the text (you can use the style you prefer, but be consistent, don't use "Gadamer 1980: 6" and then "Gadamer 1980, p. 7", followed by "Gadamer, op. cit., p. 8" and by "Gadamer, ibid.")
  2. —check of footnote numbers (are they always before or always after punctuation?)
  3. —footnote content (don't use footnotes for short bibliographical references which could be added in brackets after the quoted text, e.g., "Gadamer spoke of Horizontverschmelzung (1980: 6)")
  4. —check of n-slashes, m-slashes and the like (- within composiste words, e.g., post-mortem; – within numbers' intervals, e.g., 2–4; — for parenthetic sentences such as "If you want —and I assume you do— please come")
  5. —check of quotation marks and punctuation (is the punctuation always before or always after the punctuation mark?)
  6. —check of the spaces after punctuation
  7. —check of the full stops at the end of items in a list (must be either always present or never), titles (always absent) and footnotes (always present)
  8. —check of italics for foreign words (all of them should be in italics, apart from the final -s of the English plural, e.g., "the dharmas of a student include: studying, serving one's teacher…") 
  9. —check of the use of "we" (I would only use in case of more than one author, but more important is that one does not mix its referents: it cannot be used once to denote the author ("Our case-study indicates…"), then to indicate "whoever" ("After this passage, we read…") and next to indicate the author+his or her readers ("We have now seen that…")
  10. —check of the English form (this I have always delegated, to be honest)
  11. —check of Sanskrit punctuation (see this post)

Anything else one might delegate? What consumes your time while correcting a text?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Post-doc at the university of Heidelberg

(I am sorry for posting two posts of restricted interest one after the other, but post-doc positions are comparatively rare and the deadline of this one is so close I felt I could not wait further to post it. I received the announcement via from Birgit Kellner)

University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg
Application Deadline: 10.07.2013

The Cluster of Excellence "Asia and Europe in a Global Context," in cooperation with the "Heidelberg Graduate School for Mathematical and Computational Methods in the Sciences", invites applications for the position of a Junior Research Group Leader in Digital Humanities (full-time post-doctoral position; German academic salary scale TVL-13).

The successful candidate is a scholar in any field of the humanities or relevant to the University's Field of Focus 3 "Cultural Dynamics in Globalized Worlds". The candidate should investigate new research questions in his/her field with a transcultural perspective, and with the support of computational methods. He/She should be familiar with relevant technologies and computational approaches. He/She has successfully worked in interdisciplinary projects spanning across faculties and different research units.

The successful candidate also operates as a node in an expanding digital humanities network in Heidelberg University and takes an active role in concerted efforts to secure the sustainability of digital humanities in a future Heidelberg Center for Digital Humanities. Possible approaches include, but are not limited to: text mining and text annotation, analysis of images and iconic representations, semantic modeling of digitized sources in 2D or 3D, structures and/or dynamics of spatio-temporal models.

The Junior Research Group Leader will become a member of both the Cluster "Asia and Europe in a Global Context" and the "Heidelberg Graduate School for Mathematical and Computational Methods in the Sciences". Both institutions offer the successful applicant a well-established and highly dynamic research environment. The Junior Research Group will consist of a post-doctoral scholar and up to two doctoral students. Candidates are expected to further develop and expand this structure through their own funding applications.

Applicants are expected to hold a doctoral degree and to have an excellent publication and research record. Good knowledge of German and English is required. The position is offered for three years.
To apply, please submit a CV, a publication list and two references to Ina Chebbi, M.A., Cluster of Excellence "Asia and Europe", Karl Jaspers Centre, Building 4400, Room 111, Voßstraße 2, 69115 Heidelberg.

Your application and all documents are preferably submitted online as one single PDF file
to The deadline for the application is July 10th, 2013. The job interviews will take place on July 18th, 2013. Please understand that received applications can not be returned.

Please note that the University of Heidelberg is an equal opportunity employer and places particular emphasis on recruiting female scholars. Disabled applicants with equivalent qualifications will be given preference.



Monday, July 1, 2013

PhD Position at Heidelberg University

Until now, I have only posted announcements concerning positions in projects held by colleagues but, since not every one is a member of the Indology mailing list and the like, I thought that I will start posting announcements regarding all positions I come to know of (perhaps with the exception of completely unplausible ones).

The subproject “Changing Sacred Waterscapes: Religious and Scientific Knowledge Systems in Varanasi” of the Cluster of Excellence “Asia and Europe in a Global Context” offers one doctoral scholarship (3 years) within the interdisciplinary research group “Waterscapes in Transcultural Perspectives” (Research Area C, MC 9.2).
Within the framework of the research group we will look at discourses linked to changes of the waterscape of the north-Indian city Varanasi. Research will be carried out based on textual and cartographic sources as well as field work. One focus will be case studies situated in the 19th (James Prinsep) and 21st century. We will look at the waterscape of Varanasi in the context of an environmental history where technological, scientific and religious knowledge systems interact.

The successful applicants’ primary task will be to complete a PhD degree, but active participation in relevant graduate courses offered at the Cluster of Excellence or other institutes at Heidelberg University is recommended. The stipends are rated at €1200/month and last for 3 years. Access to travel and publication funding is available.
Candidates must hold an M.A. or equivalent in a relevant discipline of Indology, South Asian Studies and/or experience in ethnographical fieldwork methods in Asia/Asian contexts. Proficiency in English is mandatory as well as knowledge of one Asian language (Hindi / Sanskrit). An interest in interdisciplinary collaboration is essential.

To apply, send curriculum vitae, academic transcripts, an outline of a dissertation project (2-3 pages) related to the research group, names and contact details of two referees, and one written sample via email to apl. Prof. Dr. Jörg Gengnagel (

Stipend start should be in 2013, review of applications will continue until the position is filled.

Heidelberg University is an equal opportunity/affirmative-action employer. In case of equality of qualification and suitability of applicants, the applications made by female researchers will be given preferential consideration. We also encourage and welcome applications from disabled persons.

For additional information see:

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