Indian archaeologist receives Anneliese Maier Research Award
Distinguished Indian archaeologist Himanshu Prabha Ray formally accepted the Anneliese Maier Research Award on 26 September in a ceremony at the University of Frankfurt. The Award, sponsored by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, is designed to promote the internationalisation of the Humanities and Social Sciences in Germany by supporting collaborations between established international researchers and their colleagues at German institutions.
Dr. Ray is a leading archaeologist and historian, who is best known for her work on the archaeology of Buddhism in India and the role of long-distance maritime contacts with Southeast Asia in the history of India during the centuries that straddled the onset of the Christian Era. Ray has headed the National Monuments Authority in the Indian Ministry of Culture since 2012. Prior to her appointment to this post, she held a professorship at Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi. She is also Editor of the Archaeology and Religion Series published by Routledge in partnership with the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies at Oxford University.
Ray was nominated for the Anneliese Maier Award by Professor Monika Zin of LMU’s Institute of Indology and Tibetology. “We expect that, as a result of our cooperation with Professor Ray, the field of Indic Studies in Germany will attract increased international attention and interdisciplinary cooperation will be further intensified,” says Monika Zin, who currently holds the Chair of Indian Art History at the Free University of Berlin, the only such position on offer at a German university. While at LMU, Professor Ray will work in close cooperation with archaeologists, historians and art experts.
Remarking on the interest in Indic studies in Germany today, Dr. Ray said, "I think that there has been a qualitative change in the way in which South Asia is studied in Germany. There has been a shift in focus from Philology and Art History to more contemporary studies, as also examining South Asia from a comparative perspective."
The overarching theme of her project at LMU is “Cross-Cultural Dialogue: India and the Wider World in Ancient History”. “Its aim is to study interactions between the patron, imagery and the utilization of sacred spaces in South Asia and other parts of the ancient world,” says Himanshu Prabha Ray. She explained the relevance of her study in the contemporary context saying, "My project examines contemporary issues of cultural and religious plurality in the context of the ancient period of the Indian subcontinent and compares this with other parts of the ancient world, especially central Asia."
She will begin her stay at LMU with an inaugural lecture entitled “Traveling with the Buddha – Archaeology of the Early Monastic Complexes in Peninsular India."
The Anneliese Maier Research Award has been presented annually since 2012 to outstanding foreign academics from all fields of the humanities and social sciences, who use the award amount of 250,000 euros to fund research cooperations with specialist colleagues in Germany over a period of five years. They are nominated by their scientific cooperation partners at German universities and research institutes.
The award is financed with funds from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and named after German philosopher and science historian Anneliese Maier (b. 1905 in Tübingen, d. 1971 in Rome).