What’s in a Bindi and a Hand? Or: The Way Monica Juneja Enabled Me to World Myself by Sharing Her Worlds

by Franziska Koch, Heidelberg Centre for Transcultural Studies, Heidelberg University

Getting to know and working closely with a scholar and a personality such as Monica Juneja has been an absolute treat. It has been a process of becoming for me, an ongoing process of becoming aware of the cultural and ethical perceptions that govern my scholarly and general views. It has entailed puzzling over something she said and re-shaping my views in ways that find me a bit more flexible, and often, reevaluating the limits of my understanding. Sometimes, I slightly ache from the revelation of an unwelcome truth and struggle with an impulse to disagree but fail to formulate it quite as articulately as her. Normally, I am more sensitive and open to embrace new knowledge and always curious about what she is going to share next.

It is precisely the skillful and generous ways in which she shares: in her research, teaching, writing, and communication that make me think of her as a second mother. One who taught me the ropes of academic professionalism and has encouraged me (and many other emerging scholars) to believe in a scholarly world that is ultimately not separate from our social lives.

Working as an assistant professor for her newly founded Chair of Global Art History since July 2009, her 65th anniversary now provides me with an auspicious occasion to look back at the truly transformative work that she has achieved at the Heidelberg University’s Cluster of Excellence “Asia and Europe in a Global Context – Changing Asymmetries in Cultural Flows,” now known as the Heidelberg Centre for Transcultural Studies (HCTS).[i] I thought, why not bring both these perspectives together; my personal and professional experience of working with the distinguished Geburtstagskind and share in turn how I grew beyond my initial self while participating in the transformation she enabled. Continue reading “What’s in a Bindi and a Hand? Or: The Way Monica Juneja Enabled Me to World Myself by Sharing Her Worlds”