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South Asia Institute

Unique in Germany, the South Asia Institute (SAI) focuses on one of the most populous and dynamic regions in the world.

South Asia Institute

Knowledge transfer

The region in question encompasses Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the Maldives. The basic structure of the SAI, established in 1962, centres around the formation of different departments specialising in the common denominators shared by these countries: classical Indology (ancient languages and history of religion), modern Indology (modern languages and literatures of South Asia), social anthropology, geography, developmental economics, Political Science (German), History (German) and international economic and development policy (German). The SAI library has some 240,000 volumes and subscribes to about 500 journals, making it one of the largest specialist libraries of its kind. With four outstations in India (New Delhi), Nepal (Kathmandu), Pakistan (Islamabad) and Sri Lanka (Colombo), the SAI takes an active part in cooperation with, and the transfer of knowledge to, South Asia.

Detail of a map of Varanasi
Detail of a map of Varanasi, for many the prime example of a Hindu pilgrimage site on the Ganges. In the framework of the project "Visualised Space: Constructions of Locality and Cartographic Representation in Varanasi" scholars at the South Asia Institute are studying the changing urban life-worlds in India.

Intercultural competence

The central aim of the SAI is to provide its students with intercultural competence. Its approach in this respect is innovative and indeed unique in Germany, combining social sciences and economics with a form of cultural studies emphasising historical and philological aspects. This approach is of major relevance for the future, when it will be essential both to ensure that regional cultures are given a voice in the process of globalisation and to find solutions for the immense economic and ecological problems facing a region that is undoubtedly one of the most populous and economically dynamic areas in the world.

The South Asia Institute in the Internet:
www.sai.uni-
heidelberg.de

The SAI is actively committed to the introduction of new courses designed to streamline instruction and shorten study times, one of these being the new six-semester BA course "South Asian Studies". Alongside intensive language instruction in Sanskrit or Hindi and participation in the teaching provided by all disciplines represented at the SAI, this course also involves a period of internship in South Asia and the acquisition of key competencies in intercultural communication and research methods geared to the specifics of South Asia, together with instruction in rhetoric and presentation skills. A corresponding MA course is in preparation. Otherwise the curricula in the different subjects are structured and coordinated as required by the topics selected for specialisation. The SAI is also extending its language instruction programmes and organises international summer schools in Classical and Modern South Asian Studies.

budding scholars
Budding scholars also profit from the unique opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration at the South Asia Institute.

The South Asia Institute maintains a variety of contacts with research centres in Europe, Asia and America and runs a large number of projects in the South Asian region itself, mostly in collaboration with scholars working there. It has partnership agreements for the exchange of scholars and students with the University of Delhi, theĀ  Tribhuvan University of Katmandu and with various non-university research institutions. Many younger scholars come to the SAI as guests and on grants to profit from the unique opportunities it offers for intensive interdisciplinary cooperation.

comic in Sanskrit
A comic in Sanskrit. The annual International Summer School of Spoken Sanskrit held every August breathes new life into this language, a precursor of present-day Hindi.

The SAI provides its own students and graduates with a wide range of support in planning their careers, notably by organising internships in South Asia and arranging for the presentation of their research work at the many academic conferences it organises. In addition, the SAI is also active in an advisory capacity, thus maintaining and enhancing communication with politicians, economists and development aid experts and also contributing to their efforts with custom-designed problem solutions.

one of the largest specialist libraries in Europe
With its 220,000 volumes and 500 periodicals the SAI has one of the largest specialist libraries in Europe. Here a view of the newly designed reading room and the information centre.

In the coming years the SAI will be enhancing its status in South Asian studies by focussing on new facets of environmental research, health systems and the study of rituals, while at the same time consolidating communication networks between Europe and South Asia and adapting to the challenges posed by globalisation and cultural and economic interpenetration.

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Latest Revision: 2018-05-23
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