Friedrich Max Mueller, philologist and scholar, would have turned 200 in December 2023. A German scholar, philologist, orientalist and Indologist, he significantly transformed the disciplines of science of religions and comparative study of languages. The import of his legacy, however, endures through his extensive work of translating Indian languages and scriptures, which consequently shaped global perceptions of Indian culture. As namesake of the Goethe-Instituts in India, his bicentennial serves as an occasion not just to remember but to revisit his renown, while critically engaging with the complexity of his contributions. This dossier goes beyond tribute to delve into Max Mueller’s historical role, influence and relevance within contemporary India.
Renowned scholars from diverse fields came together to unravel the socio-cultural influence and enduring legacy of Max Mueller through a series of podcasts presented by Goethe-Institut Kolkata. Through these talks, they have delved into his contributions, shedding light on his impact on Indo-European perspectives and fostering intercultural dialogue.
The podcast aims to critically examine Max Mueller's influence from the vantage point of Indo-European perspectives, appreciating the richness of his contributions to linguistics, philosophy, and cultural studies. Join us as we embark on a journey to understand the profound impact Max Mueller has had on the cultural tapestry of our world.
This seven-part series includes conversations with Angus Nicholls, Kris Manjapra, Patricia Casey Sutcliffe, Arie L. Molendijk, Axel Michaels, Sayan Chattopadhyay and Parnal Chirmuley.
Academic Advisor: Sayan Chattopadhyay, IIT, Kanpur. Moderators: Sayan Chattopadhyay, IIT, Kanpur and Parnal Chirmuley, Jawaharlal Nehru University
In conversation with Angus Nicholls
Dr. Angus Nicholls: Professor, Comparative Literature and German and Director of Research for Comparative Literature and Modern Languages, Queen Mary University of London
He is interested in the intersections between literary studies, philosophy and other humanities disciplines such as critical theory, anthropology and psychoanalysis, and his work is mainly concerned with the German and Anglophone traditions from the late eighteenth century through to the twentieth century.
In conversation with Kris Manjapra
Dr. Kris Manjapra: Stearns Trustee Professor of History and Global Studies, Northeastern University, Boston
He has authored five books, including his comparative study of global emancipation processes and the implications for the reparations movement today: Black Ghost of Empire: The Long Death of Slavery and the Failure of Emancipation. His previous book, Colonialism in Global Perspective, centrally contributed to the emerging field of Race, Colonialism, and Diaspora Studies, and Age of Entanglement: German and Indian Intellectual across Empire, received the 2019 Merck-Tagore Award, sponsored by Merck Limited, India, and granted by the Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan India.
In conversation with Patricia Casey Sutcliffe
Dr Patricia Casey Sutcliffe - Editor, German Historical Institute Washington
She joined the German Historical Institute as an editor in 2006 after a 14-year career teaching English at German universities and German at American ones. In December 2000, she received her PhD in Germanic Studies from the University of Texas at Austin with a dissertation based on intellectual history: Friedrich Max Mueller and William Dwight Whitney as Exporters of Nineteenth-Century German Philology: A Sociological Analysis of the Development of their Linguistic Theories.
Reimagining Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan New Delhi of the future
In commemoration of Friedrich Max Mueller's bicentennial, the Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan New Delhi initiated an open call for artists to reimagine our beloved space in New Delhi a hundred years from now. The winning entry 'Metamorphosis: A Sustainable Legacy' by Soumendra Majumder was selected by the jury based on criteria such as originality, visual appeal, concept and execution, and alignment with Institut's identity.
In his artistic statement, Majumder wrote, “Metamorphosis challenges the conventional boundaries of heritage conservation by demonstrating that sustainability and historical preservation can coalesce seamlessly. The high-rise structure not only revitalizes the physical space of the Goethe-Institut Max Mueller Bhavan in New Delhi but serves as a metaphor for the continuous evolution of cultural institutions in the face of contemporary challenges.”