The M.S. Merian – R. Tagore International Centre of Advanced Studies: ‘Metamorphoses of the Political: Comparative Perspectives on the Long Twentieth Century’ (ICAS:MP)

The M.S. Merian – R. Tagore International Centre of Advanced Studies: ‘Metamorphoses of the Political: Comparative Perspectives on the Long Twentieth Century’ (ICAS:MP) in New Delhi is an open, interdisciplinary forum for intellectual exchange. Located in India it critically intervenes in global debates in the social sciences and humanities.

Scholars associated with ICAS:MP will have the opportunity to examine and compare, from a wide array of disciplinary and methodological approaches, how ‘the political’ has been conceptualized, articulated and performed in specific arenas of contestation during what we call the ‘long twentieth century.’ This temporal demarcation is a heuristic tool that allows us to take into account longer historical trajectories, ranging from the ‘age of empire’ to the transformative phase following the end of the cold war in which ‘the political’ emerged as a realm transcending the boundaries of institutional politics.

ICAS:MP researchers will ask: What comes to count as ‘the political’ in distinct locales? What are the historical dynamics of depoliticization and repoliticization: how has the boundary between the political and the non-political shifted over time? What are the material and normative stakes of claiming, redefining or rejecting, the political? How do these dynamics unfold beyond, and unsettle, the West/non-West divide?

These questions about the shifting nature of the political will be addressed through sustained empirical focus on six paradigmatic arenas (Thematic Modules) in which contestation over delimiting the political has been particularly intense
ICAS:MP is based on a cooperative agreement between four German and three Indian partner institutions. The German partners include the University of Göttingen (Centre for Modern Indian Studies), the University of Erfurt (Max-Weber-Kolleg), the University of Würzburg (Centre for Modern India) and the Max Weber Stiftung (MWS), academically represented by the German Historical Institute London (GHIL). The Indian partners include the Institute of Economic Growth (IEG, Delhi), the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS, Delhi), and the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences Calcutta (CSSSC) in Kolkata.

Two of the six thematic modules (TM) are anchored at CeMIS. In both modules, CeMIS provides one or two of the module coordinators. TM 2, Labour as a Political Category, is the result of many years of project cooperation with fellow historians and social scientists in India. The module committee is Prof. Dr. Ravi Ahuja (CeMIS), Prof. Dr. Rana Behal (University of Delhi, em.) and Prof. Dr. Aditya Sarkar (University of Warwick, UK). For TM 3, Critiques and Renewal of Democracy, the University of Göttingen provides two of the three module coordinators, Prof. Srirupa Roy and Prof. Rupa Viswanath. The third is Prof. Prof. Amita Baviskar (Institute of Economic Growth). In addition, CeMIS’ professor Sebastian Vollmer is a member of the TM6 Political Economy of Growth and Distribution module committee, which is administered out of Erfurt.