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Heinrich Zimmer Chair for Indian Philosophy and Intellectual History

11 11 2009
Newly endowed professorship at the Universit├Ąt Heidelberg will be held by a renowned scholar from India

In the coming summer semester, Heidelberg University will establish an endowed chair for Indian philosophy and intellectual history, the first of its kind in Germany. On Monday, 16 November 2009, the university and the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) will sign a Memorandum of Understanding to this effect at the ICCR in New Delhi (India). At the signing ceremony, the Rector of Heidelberg University, Prof. Dr. Bernhard Eitel, will be joined by the President of the ICCR, Dr. Karan Singh. On the following day, Professor Eitel will open the Heidelberg Center South Asia, a new institution enabling the university to strengthen its academic ties with the countries of South Asia.

The Heinrich Zimmer Chair for Indian Philosophy and Intellectual History is a jointly endowed professorship awarded by the ICCR, the Indian government’s highest-ranking institution for the promotion of its international cultural policies. At Heidelberg University the chair will be integrated into the South Asia Institute (SAI) and the Cluster of Excellence “Asia and Europe in a Global Context”. In addition, it is designed to encourage intensive exchange and dialogue with Heidelberg scholars, notably the Department of Philosophy. The establishment of the chair enhances the pioneering role played by the SAI and the cluster in academic relations between Germany and India. For an initial period of two years starting in April 2010, a renowned scholar from India will hold the chair.

According to Prof. Dr. Axel Michaels, co-director of the cluster, the focus of the new chair on Indian philosophy and intellectual history and its close association with the South Asia Institute and the Cluster of Excellence has prompted Heidelberg scholars to expect a new qualitative orientation in research and teaching that is unprecedented in this form, both in Germany and in Europe. Cooperation with researchers from other study fields and regions is also envisaged. The chair is named after Professor Heinrich Zimmer (1890-1943), who taught Indian philology in Heidelberg from 1924 to 1938, when he was forced to leave the university by the National Socialists.

Heidelberg University’s South Asia Institute was founded in 1962 and has a liaison office in New Delhi. Since May 2009, the Cluster of Excellence “Asia and Europe in a Global Context” is also represented at this location. The cluster was set up in the framework of the Excellence Initiative of the German Federal Government and the state governments. The university is opening the Heidelberg Center South Asia to further extending and enhancing its academic activities in the countries of South Asia. The opening ceremony, at which the Rector of the university will be present, takes place in New Delhi on Tuesday, 17 November 2009.

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