What makes Tamils ​​unique from others

University of Cologne

The Indology and Tamil Studies of the Institute for South Asian and Southeast Asian Studies (SASOA) (formerly: Institute for Indology and Tamil Studies of the University (IITS)) at the University of Cologne, which was founded in the summer of 2012, offers study opportunities that are unique in Germany. It occupies a special position among the Indologies in Germany insofar as it has a clear focus on the linguistic and cultural area of ​​southern India (Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh), Sri Lanka and the relationships between southern India and Southeast Asia (especially Cambodia and Singapore) is.

It is thus dedicated to a cultural area that has long played a subordinate role within the subject of Indology. As the name suggests, there is a special focus on researching and conveying the Tamil language and culture, which have gained special importance in Germany as a result of the immigration of Tamils ​​from Sri Lanka since the mid-1980s. Tamil is the most important representative of the so-called Dravidian language family with around 70 million speakers in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu and other large speaker groups in Sri Lanka, Mauritius, Malaysia, Singapore as well as Canada, USA, Great Britain, France and Switzerland. The Indology and Tamil studies, with its wide range of currently 4 languages ​​from the South and Southeast Asian region, offer students special opportunities for specialization and profiling.

These include the languages ​​Tamil (over 78 million speakers), Malayalam (over 30 million speakers), Sinhala (16 million speakers) and Khmer (over 10 million speakers).

In addition, Indology in Cologne occupies a leading position in research both nationally and internationally. Its special position in the landscape of the German Indologies due to its focus on South India also explains the numerous international collaborations in which it is involved in research and teaching as a leading organization or as an essential partner. Cooperation partners are scientific institutions in Europe (France, Austria, Sweden, Czech Republic), the USA (Chicago, Berkeley, Rhode Island) and Asia (India, Sri Lanka, Singapore). As is to be expected in a so-called 'small subject', there is also close and lively contact with other Indological institutes in Germany, which need not be emphasized separately here.

The numerous research projects pursued by Cologne's Indology department have brought in not inconsiderable third-party funding for the institute and thus also for the entire university - 400,000 euros in 2003/04 alone.

The Tamil section of the institute's library, which was founded in the 1950s and 1960s and has been systematically expanded since 1992, deserves a special mention in this context. The current inventory now amounts to over 60,000 titles. The institute thus has the world's most extensive and richest Tamil library outside of India. An important part of this library consists of books that were published at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries - books some of which are only available worldwide in the Cologne Indology Library. It represents a unique research instrument that is highly regarded both nationally and internationally and is used regularly by researchers from all over the world for literature research beyond the institute's operations.

Unique in Germany, the Indology and Tamil Studies of the Institute for South Asian and Southeast Asian Studies at the University of Cologne offer the courses in Indology and Tamil Studies (Magister), KuGA-India (B.A.) and India Studies (M.A.) with a focus on Tamil Studies. On the one hand, this gives German students the opportunity to learn an important language of India and Sri Lanka. On the other hand, Tamils ​​living here in Germany are given the opportunity to study their mother tongue. For some years now, Cologne's Indology has been gaining increasing interest among the more than 70,000 Tamils ​​from Sri Lanka and India currently living in Germany. It supports the Tamil population of Germany by providing dictionaries and its library.

But Cologne's Indology is also important for other South and Southeast Asians, as shown by the lively interest in studying the language Malayalam spoken in the southwest Indian state of Kerala or the official language of Cambodia - Khmer - or projects in the cataloging of oriental manuscripts (Malayalam). as well as palm leaf manuscripts (Tamil, Khmer) are available.