The Patron’s Hand: Murals from a Queen’s Temple in Jodhpur

by Nadini Thilak, Heidelberg Centre for Transcultural Studies, Heidelberg University / Linden-Museum, Stuttgart

Dear Prof. Dr. Monica Juneja,

On your 65th birth year, I want to thank you for your scholarship and generosity, which have been guiding lights leading many a graduate student (not least me) out of the thickets. Here is to celebrating your next birthday.

Nandini Thilak


In my doctoral thesis, which is centred on women patrons of architecture, I use early nineteenth-century records to trace the actors, processes, and networks that constituted architectural patronage in early modern Jodhpur. A close reading of sources from the period demonstrates that prolific female patrons of architecture from the kingdom’s royal zenana or harem were able to erect monumental architecture only with the hard-won cooperation of a large array of agents within and outside Jodhpur, among them skilled artisanal groups, suppliers, supervisors, architects, genealogists, zenana staff and so on. Evidence from Jodhpur demonstrates that agency, especially in architectural production, is better understood as a diffused or distributed phenomenon, wielded simultaneously, if not in equal measure, by multiple actors operating within dynamic networks rather than certain subject positions (such as architect or patron) that art history has historically privileged. Such an understanding owes much to a transcultural perspective on art history, especially Monica Juneja’s critique of style and style-based evolutionary classificatory regime.[i] Continue reading “The Patron’s Hand: Murals from a Queen’s Temple in Jodhpur”

Witz – Ironie – Camouflage: Erfahrungsräume und Erwartungshorizonte gebildeter Frauen zwischen 1770 und 1820

by Frank Konersmann, Bielefeld University


Hintergrund und Ausgangspunkt der folgenden Betrachtungen bilden Erfahrungen sowohl mit Selbstzeugnissen der anhaltinischen Prinzessin und späteren lippischen Fürstin Pauline (1769-1820) als auch mit solchen ihrer Zeitzeugen, die mit ihr in Kontakt standen und sich schriftlich über sie äußerten. Anlässlich ihres 200. Todestages am 29. Dezember 2020 hat der Verfasser dieser Zeilen einen biographischen Essay über diese Vertreterin des deutschen Hochadels veröffentlicht.[i] Herangezogen wurden Briefe, Gedichte, Vorträge und veröffentlichte Traktate, die sie von ihrem 15. Lebensjahr an als Prinzessin seit 1784 verfasste, sowie Stellungnahmen, Kommentare und Entscheidungen, die sie als Fürstin seit 1796 und dann als vormundschaftliche Regentin des Fürstentums Lippe seit 1802 niederschrieb und veranlasste.

Bei dieser aus dem alten Adelsgeschlecht der Askanier stammenden Frau handelt sich um eine herausragende Figur der westfälischen und insbesondere der lippischen Erinnerungskultur. So nehmen unterschiedliche Gruppierungen und Institutionen dieser ostwestfälischen Region bis in die unmittelbare Gegenwart hinein auf sie Bezug,[ii] zumal sie dem lippischen Fürstenstaat zu Beginn des 19. Jahrhunderts durch ihr außenpolitisches Engagement und diplomatisches Geschick wiederholt die politische Unabhängigkeit sicherte. Darüber hinaus ist ihr in der Diakoniegeschichte[iii] und in der jüngeren Frauen- und Gendergeschichte[iv] wiederholt gedacht worden. Denn als lippische Fürstin und Regentin trat sie ungewöhnlich durchdacht und auch entschieden mit juristischen und staatsrechtlichen sowie pädagogischen und wohlfahrtstaatlichen Initiativen und Maßnahmen hervor. Continue reading “Witz – Ironie – Camouflage: Erfahrungsräume und Erwartungshorizonte gebildeter Frauen zwischen 1770 und 1820”

Sensing History: The Memorial “The Muse Has Had It”

by Jo Ziebritzki, Heidelberg Centre for Transcultural Studies, Heidelberg University[i]

Meeting the muse

It’s early April 2017. The last couple of hours I was immersed in a typescript on ancient Buddhist temples in the library of the University of Vienna. As I now descend the grand staircase leading into the inner courtyard, my consciousness slowly emerges from the ancient past returning to the present. Outside, behind the arcades, the bright pavement reflects the spring sun. What a beautiful moment to stumble upon after a long morning in the library. Looking around, I suddenly notice an odd shape on the ground, like a shadow, but huge, and made of dark grey stone. I walk onto it, trying to decipher its contours. It is much longer in proportion to its width. I follow its length and realize that it resembles a human figure. When I reach the figure’s feet, I involuntarily smile: the shadow is wearing high heels. That was unexpected. I guess I had associated the human shape with the chalk figures at crime scenes – placeholders of evidence for someone hurt, escaped, or dead – sketched to decipher a cruelty. My eyes travel upwards along the leg of the figure, taking in the steady standing position, following the shape of the upper body, where one hand rests on the hip while the other one is raised with a clenched fist. The head of the figure is slightly tilted and framed by a bob haircut that seems to vibrate with vigorous movement. “Dear revolutionary shadow figure, would you tell me your story?”

Iris Andraschek, Der Muse Reicht’s (The Muse Has Had It), detail of shadow figure and one pedestal, 2009. Inner courtyard of the University of Vienna. Photographer: Hertha Hurnaus. © Courtesy of Hertha Hurnaus,

Continue reading “Sensing History: The Memorial “The Muse Has Had It””

An Unfinished Democratizing Intervention: History Lessons in the 21st century for School Children in India

by Kumkum Roy, Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University

I do not remember when I first met Monica. However, from the 1980s, when I first began teaching in a college at the University of Delhi, I do remember hearing about a bright, energetic teacher and scholar. Our more systematic interactions started when I joined the Department of History at the University. Monica was already teaching there, and with her I learned to negotiate the nitty gritty of academic life, participating in exciting and intense discussions around texts that she initiated with students which were rigorous, demanding, challenging, insightful, and nuanced.

Some years later, we met again as part of a large, unwieldy yet enthusiastic team of historians, teachers, and administrators, trying to put in place a new curriculum for Indian school children to be developed through a series of fresh textbooks. Monica’s contribution, a chapter on the French Revolution for students of Class IX, remains one of my favorites. Apart from her own contribution, she was constantly available over e-mail responding promptly, efficiently, and precisely to all kinds of queries; verifying, clarifying, qualifying, and refining half-baked chapters, with energy and professional commitment that was remarkable. It is this combination of deep and reliable scholarship, presented imaginatively and creatively, along with her warmth and affection that makes Monica special.

Book Cover of India and the Contemporary World I: Textbook in History for Class IX. © by NCERT 2006.


In what follows, I reflect on the moment in 2005 when the National Curriculum Framework for India was revised, and turn to the implications and possibilities that opened up for the Social Sciences. I will be discussing Monica’s chapter, locating it within a larger framework, and draw attention to subsequent developments which indicate that the intervention of 2005 will most probably be reversed in the near future. Continue reading “An Unfinished Democratizing Intervention: History Lessons in the 21st century for School Children in India”

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