Dr. Onenkala Onenkala


TMWWDG-Stipendiatin (Forschungszentrum Gotha)


TMWWDG-Fellow, Gotha Research Centre

Herzog-August-Fellow (Post-Doc), Gotha Research Centre

PhD, “Missionary Enterprise and Spiritual Empire, the Cultural and Economic Networks of the Jesuits in India (1540–1759)”, Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India

Assistant Professor, JMC, Mokokchung, Nagaland, India

Erasmus Mundus Scholarship, Leiden University, Netherlands

M.Phil. Dissertation "Jesuit Perception of the Mughals (1580–1759), Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India

M.A in History of Medieval India, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India

B.A with History Honours, St. Josephs College, Kohima, Nagaland, India


Knowledge Production in Pietist Transcultural Networks in the 18th Century

The Indian mission transferred knowledge to Europe through Halle, which was again distributed through diverse channels. Printed books and letters from the Indian mission were published to attract people and get funding, they were targeted for a larger audience. But unprinted texts like letters that were circulated among the Pietists in Europe were meant to be read only within small circles. They had a smaller audience, did not get published and were not censored and furnished for publications. Leaders like Spener, Francke, Zinzendorf encouraged their correspondents to report on the progress of the extension of the Kingdom of God throughout the world. Pietists learned the truth of scripture not so much from intellectual reflection but from religious experience. By sharing personal experiences with one another, each person was encouraged to develop their own faith. This sharing of the personal letters was considered a communal experience, strengthening both individual faith and group unity.

I will explore the many letters exchanged between three Pietist members presently located at the Gotha Research Library, namely Olaus Biörn, Balthasar Kopke and Friedrich Breckling.. Knowledge was multiplied and spread by means of referencing and summarising the letters from India through Pietist networks across Europe. This indirect path of communication poses some interesting questions that go beyond the content of the actual letters from the missionaries but focuses on the reception by different nodes in these networks. Who were the people responsible for referencing these letters, and how were their networks structured? How were these letters generated and the references re-transplanted? By exploring these re-writings by the European nodes of the Pietist network, who examined the letters from the East, one might see interesting shifts in interpretations of these letters.

Studying Pietist communication networks can reveal how the different organisational structure impacted the production of knowledge on India and the Mission. The letters by different Pietist writers in Europe that referenced and re-referenced the original letters from India open the perfect opportunity to understand this process of knowledge production from within the network itself. The letters between Olaus Biörn, Balthasar Kopke and Friedrich Breckling, presently located at the Gotha Research Library, need therefore further research.

The other part of my study will focus on the Protestant missionaries in Colonial India and the local Christian converts. Most of them were from simple if not from lower castes background and it would be interesting to see the relationship between the various castes to come together who saw themselves in the bigger picture as Christian converts. The relationship between Halle missionaries with the colonial administrators mainly from the English East India Company, how far they got along and how independent they were from the administrators needs to be looked at as well. By doing so, I intend to bring my work under the transcultural networks paradigm in the 18th century between India, Germany and England that happened through the coming of the Protestant Missionaries in India.



Jesuit Perception of later Mughals, Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb, (1627–1707 AD), Indian Church History Review XLIX/1&2 (2015), The Church History Association of India.

The Beginning of the Jesuit mission, their Perception of Akbar in the Mughal Court (1580–1605), International Journal of Recent Research in Social Sciences and Humanities 2/3 (2015).




Topics of Teaching

History of India upto the Mauryas
History of India (1526 to the 19th Century)
Advent of European Powers (Portuguese, Dutch, French, English)
History of North-East of India (1822-1972) - Early British Policy in North-
East of India
Rise of Indian Nationalism
Arab Spring