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.
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”
Before starting my PhD at Heidelberg University, I had been a literary studies scholar. For my PhD, I chose to research the wall paintings of Shekhawati in Rajasthan. Unsure of which academic discipline this research should be pursued under, I was guided by Professor Monica Juneja, who encouraged me to conduct this study under the aegis of transcultural studies, supporting me by graciously accepting a student with no prior training in art history. True to the theoretical aspects of transculturality, her guidance allowed me to create research that is not neatly contained within the analytical and methodological boundaries that define disciplines.
Her own scholarship has been instrumental in familiarizing me not only with art historical analytical frameworks but the possibility of analysing the visual with and beyond these frames.
Wenn ich an Monica denke, fällt mir immer das „Kleine Deutsche Sprachdiplom“ ein, das sie damals in Paris mehr so en passant erworben hat, wobei sie das niemals so ausdrücken würde, ich sage es nur, weil ich so beeindruckt davon war, wie akzentfrei Monica dieses „Kleine Deutsche Sprachdiplom“ aussprach, die deutschen Worte klangen aus ihrem Mund ganz anders, liebenswürdiger, nobler, vielleicht auch makelloser. Sie sprach Französisch, Italienisch, Englisch, Hindi und ich vermutete, dass sie wahrscheinlich auch Sanskrit sprach, während ich noch im Clinch mit dem subjonctif de l’imparfait lag. Continue reading “Für Monica”