Third party funded research projects

Prof. Dr. Heike Oberlin

See the research database of the University of Tübingen: projects, portfolios, cooperations (FIT)

2018-2020 (ZUK / DFG): Sacred Sound: Musikalische Manifestationen des Sakralen im Spannungsfeld von Theorie und Praxis. Hauptantragsteller: Prof. Dr. Stefan Morent und Prof. Dr. Thomas Schipperges (Musikwissenschaft); weitere PI: Prof. Dr. Robert Horres (Japanologie), Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Leppin (Kirchengeschichte), Prof. Dr. Heike Oberlin (Indologie). 01.10.2018-30.09.2020.


2016-2018 (DFG): Das Hermann-Gundert-Portal: Digitalisierung und Erschließung des Nachlasses von Hermann Gundert (Handschriften und Drucke) sowie ergänzender Werke aus seinem Umfeld an der Universitätsbibliothek Tübingen.


2015-2017 (ZUK / DFG): Farbpräferenzen - ein interdisziplinäres Forschungsvorhaben zum Verhältnis von Farbwahrnehmung und visueller Kultur (01.10.2015-30.09.2017).

2010-2016 (GIF): Kutiyattam – Living Sanskrit Theater in the Kerala Tradition

Films resulted from the project

Article in ATTEMPTO 39, 2015, p. 32-37: Indisches Theater aus dem vorigen Jahrtausend / Indian theater from the first millennium

Classical Sanskrit theater has survived as a living performance tradition, continuous with the medieval past, only in one form, the Kudiyattam (“Combined Performance”) tradition of Kerala in the south-west of the sub-continent. This complex, still vibrant, yet endangered artistic tradition — recognized by Unesco as a “masterpiece of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity”— is in urgent need of scholarly study and state-of-the-art documentation. Traditional performances of Kudiyattam plays range from roughly thirty to well over a hundred hours (each is usually a single act from one of the classical Sanskrit dramas), with each subsequent day or night of performance adding indispensable elements to the emergent artistic whole. Only two major academic centers in the world are engaged in serious, long-term study of Kudiyattam — the University of Tuebingen, where Dr. Heike Moser, the leading expert on this tradition, teaches and pursues research, and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where Prof. David Shulman is now concentrating on the cultural history of Kerala and its classical artistic forms together with several advanced students. The profound complexity of this tradition as well as its intimate links to very ancient Indian sources and to specifically south Indian ritual and artistic genres require the active cooperation of a team of highly trained scholars. Tuebingen and Jerusalem thus seek to combine their efforts in a large-scale project, historically informed and philologically precise, with a wide cultural-historical scope, which is likely to transform our understanding of classical Indian drama and poetics. The project includes detailed analysis of the primary performance texts in the existing repertoire (hundreds of hours of recorded performance, published and unpublished stage-manuals, including palmleaf-manuscripts), publication of a series of monographs on various aspects of the Kudiyattam corpus, workshops and a major international conference in Tuebingen and/or Jerusalem, and two research expeditions to complete documentation of the repertoire before it disappears.

Flyer 2011

Article in The Hindu, 21.10.2010: Bowled over by Koodiyattam. Heike Moser, researcher and the first foreigner to have had her arengetram in Kerala's mimetic theatre form.

Article in The Hindu, 29.08.2010: Koodiyattam lovers from abroad.

Malayalam: intensive courses

Since winter term 2008/2009 Heike Oberlin (Moser) offers at Tübingen University Malayāḷam intensive courses for beginners on a regular base.

The "Gundert Chair" for Malayalam was established in October 2015.
For information about the next course click here: Malayāḷam

Former projects


UNESCO and Kūṭiyāṭṭam: The impact of the program »Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity« on India’s traditional Sanskrit theatre (Dr. Heike Moser)

Sub-project of B14: "Religion on Stage: Traditional South Asian Performances in New Public Spheres and Media", Cluster of Excellence "Asia and Europe in a Global Context", Heidelberg University

Dr. Heike MOSER was working from 2008-12/2011 as affiliated research fellow of the Cluster of Execllence "Asia and Europe in a Global Contect" (Heidelberg) on the impact of the UNESCO-program “Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity” on the religious performances that have received this award. The program was introduced in the year 2001. Moser’s main subject, the Sanskrit theatre Kūṭiyāṭṭam of Kerala / South India, was awarded in the first batch. Moser works on how the UNESCO defines a “Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity” and how it selects a specific tradition to be part of the program. Further, she analyzes the impact of this scheme on traditions like Kūṭiyāṭṭam. She will study how the program is accepted among performers and how the scheme influences these traditions as art-forms and as rituals. Being a Kutiyattam actress herself since 1995, she has the unique chance to have a deep insight into the process, starting from the time of application itself.

Multimediale Datenbank zum Sanskrit-Schauspiel: Texte und Aufführungen (Prof. Heidrun Brückner / Indologie Univ. Würzburg)