Dr. Maria Framke


Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin im Forschungsprojekt „Hidden histories: Frauen in ländlichen Entwicklungsprogrammen in Indien, c. 1920–1966“ (Historisches Seminar)


Lehrgebäude 4 / Raum 114

Office hours

on appointment

Visiting address

Nordhäuser Str. 63
99089 Erfurt

Mailing address

Universität Erfurt
Historisches Seminar
Globalgeschichte des 19. Jahrhunderts
Postfach 90 02 21
99105 Erfurt

Dr. Maria Framke

Curriculum Vitae

since 08/2021
Research fellow in project “Hidden histories: Women’s role in rural development programmes in India, c. 1920–1966”, funded by DFG

Habilitation at Rostock University

Central Editorial Department of H-Soz-Kult, Berlin

since 07/2020
Affiliated research fellow at the Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient, Berlin 

Lecturer at the Chair for European and Contemporary History at the University of Rostock

Post-doc at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich on the research project ‘South Asian Humanitarianism in armed conflicts, 1899–1949’

Research fellow at the Collaborative Research Centre ‘Changing Representations of Social Order (SFB 640)’, Humboldt University of Berlin

Ph.D, Jacobs University Bremen, thesis: ‘Perception and Impact of Fascism and National Socialism in India, 1922–1939’, supervisor: Prof. Dr Harald Fischer-Tiné

Coordination of the DAAD project ‘A New Passage to India’ at the Centre for Modern Indian Studies at the University of Göttingen

Coordination of the master program ‘Modern Global History’, jointly introduced by Jacobs University Bremen and University Bremen

M. A. in History and History and Society in South Asia, Humboldt University Berlin, Free University Berlin and SOAS London

B. A. in Business Administration, Berufsakademie Berlin

Research interests

  • modern South Asian history
  • colonialism and imperialism
  • fascism
  • history of humanitarianism and refugee history
  • gender history
  • biographies

Research project

Hidden histories: Women’s role in rural development programmes in India, c. 1920–1966

Echoing recent calls for a ‘gendering’ of development history, this project examines Indian women’s contributions to rural reconstruction programmes between the 1920s and 1960s. The project’s main objective is to explore the uncharted history of female actors’ roles in designing and implementing rural development schemes in India in three key areas, namely health, education, and sustainable livelihood. These initiatives were partly state-led, and partly carried out by voluntary organisations. Their analysis provides novel insights into international entanglements across North America, Europe, and South Asia that shaped the processes of Indian nation state building. Moving beyond the existing scholarship, which mainly focusses on male actors, the overarching goal is to produce an account of the twin processes of development and expansive citizenship by shifting the focus to elite women working with subaltern rural women. To achieve this, the fundamental questions the project raises are: did these schemes, influenced by contemporary social feminism, re-iterate the conventional dual model of male and female divided work sphere? Did this type of female work and participation re-inscribe a secondary feminised role? Or, on the contrary, did all this activity elevate women as ‘equal citizens’? The project encompasses both the late colonial and the early postcolonial periods. Such an approach, still rarely practiced in South Asian history, allows to put continuities and ruptures into stark relief. Jawaharlal Nehru’s famous quote that dams are ‘temples of the new age’ stressed the importance of large-scale investments in the state-run modernization of the industrial sector. A closer look nevertheless reveals that the rural, besides being the locus of agrarian production guaranteeing food security, was also an equally important site of ‘gendered’ development. Programmes to improve maternal and child health, to develop handicraft and cottage industries to support livelihood, and to widen the literacy base were specifically targeted towards women in rural areas. Both local participation as well as support from international organisations such as the WHO shaped the knowledge, expertise and networks of Indian activists that were key to the success of these schemes. The proposed research combines an actor-centred biographical approach with the investigation of institutional history that takes both organisations and networks into account. While retaining the focus on women’s contributions, one guiding hypothesis, based upon preliminary work, is that the ‘zone of encounter’ between elite imaginations and rural realities will tell us about the contestations that accompanied the implementation of these schemes. In this way, the project will provide an in-depth account of how women conceptualised ‘development’ for themselves, and what these contestations meant for the historical genesis and graded nature of citizenry in the world’s largest democracy.

Scholarships & Prizes

Fellowship at M.S. Merian – R. Tagore Centre of Advanced Studies ‘Metamorphoses of the Political’ (ICAS:MP), Delhi

Best Teaching Award, University of Rostock

Scholarship for ‘Global History‘ of the Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft Darmstadt

09/2009–10/2009 and 09/2010–10/2010
Research Scholarship at the German Historical Institute Rome

Scholarship of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) in India

07/2008 – 08/2008
Research Scholarship at the German Historical Institute London


Comparativ, member of the editorial board (2023)

Transimperial History Blog, co-editor (since 2021)

H-Soz-Kult, review editor (since 2017) and member of the steering committee (2020)

IZSAF – Interdisciplinary Journal for South Asia Research, editor (2015-2023)

Co-founder of Y-SASM (Young South Asia Scholars Meet), Berlin 2010.



2013: Delhi – Rom – Berlin. Die indische Wahrnehmung von Faschismus und Nationalsozialismus, 1922–1939, Darmstadt: WBG.

Edited Volumes

2021: with Andreas Weiß: Forum: Nation: The role of the nation in history writing in the 21st century’, in: H-Soz-Kult, 08.09.2021, <www.hsozkult.de/debate/id/diskussionen-5271> und <www.hsozkult.de/debate/id/diskussionen-5272>.

2021: with Harald Fischer-Tiné (eds.): The Routledge Handbook of the History of Colonialism in South Asia, London: Routledge, therin chapter: Indian humanitarianism under colonial rule: Imperial loyalty, national self-assertion and anticolonial emancipation, pp. 486–496.

2017: with Anandita Bajpai (eds.): South Asia Chronicle, 7, Special issue: Revisiting Partition seventy years later: Of layered echoes, voices and memories.

2015: with Joel Glasman (eds.): WerkstattGeschichte, 68, thematic issue: Humanitarismus.

2014: with Hannelore Lötzke and Ingo Strauch (eds.): Indologie und Südasienstudien in Berlin: Geschichte und Positionsbestimmung, Berlin: trafo-Verlag, therein: Die Rolle der Berliner Indologie und Indienkunde im „Dritten Reich“, pp. 89–128.

Articles in Journals and Chapters in Edited Volumes

2024: with Thomas Davies, Daniel Laqua et al.: Rethinking Transnational Activism through Regional Perspectives: Reflections, Literatures and Cases, in: Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, published online 2024:1-27. doi:10.1017/S0080440123000294.

2023: Manoeuvring across Academia in National Socialist Germany: The Life and Work of Devendra Nath Bannerjea, in: NTM – Zeitschrift für Geschichte der Wissenschaften, Technik und Medizin, 31 (3), pp. 307–332.

2023: with Moritz Epple, Eli Franco, Horst Junginger and Baijayanti Roy: Introduction: Indology and Aryanism: Knowledge of India in Nazi Germany – An Invitation for New Research, in:  NTM Zeitschrift für Geschichte der Wissenschaften, Technik und Medizin, 31 (3), pp. 219–231.

2023: with Moritz Epple, Eli Franco, Horst Junginger and Baijayanti Roy: Where do we Stand in the Historiography of Small Disciplines in Nazi Germany? The Case of Indology, in: NTM Zeitschrift für Geschichte der Wissenschaften, Technik und Medizin, 31 (3), pp. 233–243.

2021: Nationalsozialismus, antikolonialer Widerstand und Exilerfahrungen: Deutsch-indische und deutsch-deutsche Begegnungen in Britisch-Indien der 1930er und 1940er Jahre, in: Jörg Zedler (ed.): The Bombay Talkies Limited: Akteure – deutsche Einflüsse – kulturhistorischer Kontext, München: utzverlag, pp. 103–135.

2020: The politics of gender and community: non-governmental relief in late colonial and early postcolonial India, in: Esther Möller, Johannes Paulmann and Katharina Stornig (eds.): Gendering Humanitarianism: Politics, practice, and empowerment during the twentieth century, London: Palgrave MacMillan, pp. 143–166.

2017: ‘We must send a gift worthy of India and the Congress!’ War and political humanitarianism in late colonial South Asia, in: Modern Asian Studies, 51 (6), pp. 1969–1998.

2017: India’s freedom and the League of Nations: public debates 1919–1933, in: Matthias Zachmann (ed.): Asia after Versailles: Asian Perspectives on the Paris Peace Conference and the Post-War World, 1919–1933, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, pp. 124–143.

2016: Political Humanitarianism in the 1930s: Indian Aid for Republican Spain, in: European Review of History, 23 (1–2), pp. 63–81.

2016: Shopping ideologies for independent India? Taraknath Das’s engagement with Italian Fascism and German National Socialism, in: Itinerario, 40 (1), pp. 55–81.

2014: International events, national policy: The 1930s in India as formative period for Non-alignment, in: Natasa Miskovic, Harald Fischer-Tiné and Nada Boskovska (eds.): Non-Aligned Movement and the Cold War, London: Routledge, pp. 37–56.

2013: Internationalizing the Indian War on Opium: Colonial policy, the nationalist movement and the League of Nations, in: Harald Fischer-Tiné and Jana Tschurenev (eds.): A History of Alcohol and Drugs in Modern South Asia: Intoxicating Affairs, London: Routledge, pp. 155–171.

2013: Fascist Italy: Ideal Template for India’s Economic Development, in: Hagen Schulz-Forberg, (ed.): Zero Hours: Conceptual Insecurities and New Beginnings in the Interwar Period, Brüssel: P.I.E. Peter Lang, pp. 77–96.

2012: Anti-Koloniale Solidarität? Der Abessinienkrieg, Indien und der Völkerbund, in: Sönke Kunkel and Christoph Meyer (eds.): Aufbruch ins postkoloniale Zeitalter: Globalisierung und die außereuropäische Welt in den 1920er und 1930er Jahren, Frankfurt am Main/New York: Campus, pp. 190–207.

2011: Vorbild oder Feindbild? Die Wahrnehmung Japans in Indien von 1915–1920, in: Bochumer Jahrbuch zur Ostasienforschung, 34, pp. 103–120.

2010: with Jana Tschurenev: Umstrittene Geschichte: (Anti-)Faschismus und (Anti-)Kolonialismus in Indien, in: Prokla, 158 (1), pp. 67–83.

Online Publications

2023: Women's role in postcolonial nation state building: Krishnabai Nimbkar and the question of rural development in and beyond India, in: Replito.

2021: Indian and Chinese Anti-imperial Networks in the 1930s and 1940s, in: Transimperial History Blog.

2019: with Esther Möller: From local philanthropy to political humanitarianism: South Asian and Egyptian humanitarian aid during the period of decolonization, in: ZMO Working Papers, 22.

2018: Indien als Zufluchtsort für jüdische NS-Flüchtlinge: Flucht, Antikolonialismus, und humanitäre Solidarität in der Zwischenkriegszeit, in: Interdisziplinäre Zeitschrift für Südasienforschung, 3, pp. 92–104.

2014: Encyclopaedic entry: Annie Besant, in: 1914–1918-online. International Encyclopedia of the First World War.

2014: Hitler bei den Hindus: Unwissenheit und Verklärung prägen das Bild des Nationalsozialismus in Indien, in: bpb.

2013: ‘review article: Encounters with Fascism and National Socialism in non-European Regions’, in: South Asia Chronicle, 2, pp. 350–374.