New elective course for MA students: Contemporary Asian Academic Debates

As from the academic year 2023-2024, our department offers a new elective course in English to students enrolled in our MA program: Contemporary Asian Academic Debates, which will grant 3 CRDT.

The lecture series of the first semester will be dedicated to the theme “Animals, Humans and the Environment in Asian Studies”.
For more details about each lecture, check the Ufora page of this course.

The theme of the second semester will be “Interactions between Religious and Political Authority in East Asia: Past and Present”.

Lecturers in charge

Program director

Time and venue

Wednesdays, 10.00-13.00

Classroom 0.2 Blandijnberg 2, Campus Boekentoren/Hybrid



5 October – Ācārya Mahāprajña Annual Lecture – Beyond Life’s End

This year’s Ācārya Mahāprajña Annual Lecture will be held on Thursday 5 October, from 4:30 pm. It will take place in the Faculty Board Room (Blandijnberg 2), but will also be accessible online (see below for registration).

Our speaker Prof. Dr. Claire Maes (University of Tübingen) will discuss the age-old Jain practice of sallekhanā (a form of end-of-life fasting) in light of contemporary medical and legal frameworks.


Beyond Life’s End: Towards an Ethical Evaluation of the Jain Practice of Fasting to Death

In this lecture, I make an ethical argument to consider the Jain practice of fasting to death (known as sallekhanā) as different from suicide. To this end, I bring the Jain fast into conversation with the practice of ‘Voluntarily Stopping of Eating and Drinking’ (VSED), an end-of-life option, available in various countries for competent adults, to hasten the end of life by consciously choosing to not eat and drink. From a medical and legal point of view sallekhanā can be considered a form of VSED. Although differing in terms of intent and historical context, the two practices are similar insofar that they relate to capable and sound individuals who voluntarily forego food and water until death. Showing the critical similarity between VSED and sallekhanā, I argue that the grounds put forward by major medical associations and legal societies to differentiate VSED from suicide are equally applicable to the case of sallekhanā. I contend that the Jain fast needs to be disentangled from the concept of suicide based on the quality of intent, but also because the process is, in theory and for some time at least, reversible, supported by loved ones and members of the larger Jain community, and dependent on the individual’s continuous and prolonged will of renouncing food and water. I also show how medical and legal authorities defend an individual’s right to VSED based on the principles of self-determination, bodily integrity, self-ownership, and respect for persons. I put forward the view to take these ethical principles into account to legally protect a Jain’s right to take the vow of sallekhanā.




Claire Maes studied Indian Languages and Cultures at Ghent University, Belgium, and Indian Philosophy at the University of Mysore in India. She earned her Ph.D. degree in 2015 from Ghent University with a dissertation that examines the influence of Jain thought and practice on the Buddhist monastic community in early India. Soon after, she joined the University of Texas at Austin where she worked for several years at the Asian Studies Department, first as a postdoctoral fellow of The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Program in Buddhist Studies, and subsequently as a Sanskrit lecturer. Since September 2021, she is an assistant professor at the Department of Indology at the University of Tübingen, Germany. Her principal research topics are the Jain understandings of what constitutes a good death and the development of the Buddhist monastic community in ancient India.



Register for on-campus attendance:

Register for online attendance:

This event will be followed by a small reception.

Charles DiSimone awarded with an ERC Starting Grant for the project “Corpora in Greater Gandhāra”

One more research grant awarded to our department!
Our colleague Charles DiSimone has been awarded a prestigious ERC Starting Grant as the Principal Investigator of “Corpora in Greater Gandhāra: Tracing the Development of Buddhist Textuality and Gilgit/Bamiyan Manuscript Networks in the First Millennium of the Common Era”.
Prof DiSimone is a member of SANGH – South India Network Ghent and of GCBS – Ghent Centre for Buddhist Studies.
Congratulations, Charles!

Sara Mondini has joined us as a new Assistant Professor of Art and Architecture of West and South Asia

As from the academic year 2023-2024, Sara Mondini will be part of our department as a new Assistant Professor of Art and Architecture of West and South Asia. Sara has been awarded an Odysseus Type II grant by the Fonds Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek – Vlaanderen (FWO) for her 5-year project “The Mosques of Kerala: Artistic Vocabularies in the Identity-Building of Muslim Communities”. Welcome, Sara!

New collaborations for UGent students and researchers with academic institutes in India

In August 2023, Prof. Eva De Clercq, Prof. Tine Vekemans, and our program manager Inge Claerhout travelled to India to define potential collaborations between our Department of Languages and Cultures and new partner institutes in India: Manipal University (MAHE) near Udupi in Karnataka, Somaiya University in Mumbai, FLAME University in Pune, and IIT Jodhpur in Rajasthan.

New opportunities for trainings and exchange programs coming soon!

Aaricia Ponnet’s PhD defense: “Climbing the language tree: multiple case studies on the acquisition of Hindi as a Foreign language”

On 22 June our colleague Aaricia Ponnet successfully defended her PhD with a dissertation titled “Climbing the language tree: multiple case studies on the acquisition of Hindi as a Foreign language”, a groundbreaking study on foreign language learners of Hindi in Europe. Aaricia has a background in Indian Studies and currently works at the Department of Linguistics, Ghent University. Here you can find more details about her latest work.
Congratulations, Aaricia!

Saarthak Singh awarded an FWO postdoc junior fellowship

Our department welcomes Saarthak Singh as a new member from the academic year 2023-2024! Saarthak has been awarded an FWO postdoc junior fellowship to work on his  project titled “Coexistence, conflict and calamity: entangled worlds of Hinduism and Islam in the heart of India”. Swagatam!

26 October – CMSI Lecture | Memory and Politics of Language: Songs of Indentured Tamil Women in Malayan Plantations

On 26 September 2023, Dr Vandana Saxena (Universiti Malaya, Malaysia) will give a lecture titled “Memory and Politics of Language: Songs of Indentured Tamil Women in Malayan Plantations” as part of the lecture series organised by the Cultural Memory Studies Initiative of Ghent University.

Details of the event

Thursday 26 October, 4.30 p.m. – 6.00 p.m.
Location: Camelot meeting room (3.30), Faculty of Arts and Philosophy, Blandijnberg 2, 9000 Gent


Since language is the primary medium for the production and sustenance of memory, whether personal or collective, the politics of language is inscribed in the mnemonic productions of the past. In postcolonial nations, contestations in the arena of memory are embedded within dualisms like colonial language versus indigenous languages, or the debates surrounding the issue of national language and the position of other languages vis-à-vis the national language. How does the politics of language affect and shape the arena of postcolonial memories? And what happens when it encounters the politics of gender and race? This talk will discuss the mnemonic representations of Tamil women plantation workers in British Malaya. Brought as indentured labour from India to work on Malayan rubber plantations, Tamil women plantation workers have been an important part of the colonial and postcolonial Malaysian economy and society. Yet, their histories and experiences are recounted mostly in the English language, either via archival documents of the colonial administration and the memoirs and ‘confessions’ of the British planters in Malaya, or via the accounts of the post-independence Malaysian state, where the gaps and silences of colonial accounts are filled in by state narratives. It is only recently that their own accounts of indenture have attracted attention, with the rediscovery of two volumes of plantation worker songs collected and published in the 1960s. These songs are in Tamil, and one of the reasons why they have been largely forgotten is due to the place of Tamil in Malaysia as a language of the migrant indentured labour community. These plantation songs highlight women’s experiences of migration from India, their life in the plantation, their efforts to create and preserve ‘India’ in Malaya, and their thoughts on British colonialism and anti-colonial movements. These memories, though they exist in the public arena, have been nearly forgotten given the language politics of postcolonial Malaysia as well as the marginalization of the subject on account of gender, race, and class. This talk shall discuss the songs of Tamil women plantation workers as a form of counter-memory that challenges colonial and postcolonial narratives. It shall further discuss the potential of minority-language literature to complicate and politicize colonial and national memory.

For more info click on the event page.



Tenth Early Hindi / Braj Bhasha Workshop 2023

Organized by the Department of Languages and Cultures, Ghent University
Organizer: Biljana Zrnic
Members of the organizing committee: Imre Bangha, Richard Williams, Dhurjjati Sarma, Ishan Chakrabarti


Last on campus Braj workshop in St-Petersburg, 2019

The Department of Languages and Cultures (Ghent University) is organizing the tenth Early Hindi / Braj Bhasha Workshop. The workshop will take place from 15-25 July 2023 on Brijuni (one of the National Parks of Croatia, located near the city of Pula). Leading experts from India, Europe, and America will present and examine with the global readership early modern Hindi texts composed between the 16th and 19th centuries and discuss challenges of interpretation, variations, and other aspects of the texts. Academics and students with a solid foundation in Brajbhasha or another form of early Hindi, and familiarity with essential grammatical terminology in English or Hindi, are welcome to join.

Bed and breakfast rates for Rooms Karmen on Veliki Brijun:
Shared double room – 54 EUR
Single room – 75 EUR
If you plan to come with your family members:
Double room 2 + 1 (park view) – 107 EUR
Double room 2 + 1 (sea view) – 119 EUR
Optional dinner costs 22 EUR. Meals will be served in the hotel Neptun (situated just next to Rooms Karmen). There are other restaurants nearby.
Rooms Karmen do not have WiFi. For internet access, it is advisable to use the seminar room or buy an internet SIM card.
Arriving to Brijuni:
1. The nearest airport is Pula Airport, located only 13 km from Brijuni. Transfer from the Pula Airport to the hotel (and vice-versa) is free of charge.
2. Another option is to book a flight to Zagreb, then take another flight Zagreb-Pula or take a bus Zagreb-Pula at the central bus station in Zagreb (duration by bus Zagreb-Pula is ca 4 hours). Transfer from Pula central bus station to the hotel (and vice-versa) is free of charge.
3. If arriving from Italy, take a bus Trieste-Pula (duration 2 hours) or a ferry from Venice to Pula (duration ca 3 hours and 30 min).
The island can be reached by the national park boat (duration 15 minutes). For hotel guests, transfer from the island to the coast (and vice-versa) is free of charge for the whole stay.



July 15, Saturday – ARRIVAL

18:00                          Welcome party


July 16, Sunday

9:30 – 11:00               Jaroslav Strnad: Kabīr 1st  

11:30 – 13:00             Biljana Zrnic: Sūrdās 1st

15:00 – 16:30             Monika Horstmann: Prithīnāth 1st (hybrid)


July 17, Monday

9:30 – 11:00               Jaroslav Strnad: Kabīr 2nd  

11:30 – 13:00             Biljana Zrnic: Sūrdās 2nd

15:00 – 16:30             Monika Horstmann: Rajab 2nd (hybrid)

17:00                          Excursion – Veliki Brijun Tour


July 18, Tuesday

9:30 – 11:00               Jaroslav Strnad: Kabīr 3rd   

11:30 – 13:00             Robin Rinehart: Guru Gobind Singh – Dasam Granth 1st  

15:00 – 16:30             Monika Horstmann: Rajab 3rd (hybrid)


July 19, Wednesday

 9:30 – 11:00               Heidi Pauwels: Rasik Bihārī and Nāgarīdās 1st

11:30 – 13:00             Robin Rinehart: Guru Gobind Singh – Dasam Granth 2nd  

15:00 – 16:30             Imre Bangha: Ālam-keli 1st (hybrid)

17:00                          Excursion – Pula


July 20, Thursday

 9:30 – 11:00               Heidi Pauwels: Rasik Bihārī and Nāgarīdās 2nd  

11:30 – 13:00             Imre Bangha: Ālam-keli 2nd      

15:00 -16:30               Dalpat Rajpurohit 1st (hybrid)


July 21, Friday

9:30 – 11:00               Heidi Pauwels: Jānā Begum – Risālah-i Mūsiqī 3rd  

11:30 – 13:00             Yogesh Pratāp Shekhar: Dev – Bhāv Vilās 1st   

15:00 – 16:30             Dalpat Rajpurohit 2nd (hybrid)

17:00                          Excursion by boat around Brijuni


July 22, Saturday

9:30 – 11:00               Swapnā Sharma: Gadādhar Bhaṭṭ Padāvalī 1st

11:30 – 13:00             Yogesh Pratāp Shekhar: Dev – Bhāv Vilās 2nd  

15:00 – 16:30             Devendra Sharma 1st (hybrid)


July 23, Sunday

9:30 – 11:00               Swapnā Sharma: Gadādhar Bhaṭṭ Padāvalī 2nd

11:30 – 13:00             Eva De Clercq: Svayambhudev – Paumacariu 1st

15:00 –16:30              Devendra Sharma 2nd (hybrid)

17:00                           Excursion – Rovinj


July 24, Monday

9:30 – 11:00               Eva De Clercq: Svayambhudev – Paumacariu 2nd

11:30 – 13:00             Tine Van Overberghe: Bulākīdās – Bhārat Bhāṣā 1st

15:00 – 16:30             Neha Tiwari: Somnāth – Sujān Vilās 1st (hybrid)


July 25, Tuesday

9:30 – 11:00               Closing session                     


Croatia is a member of the Schengen area. The currency in Croatia is the euro.

A 10-40 EUR voluntary donation is suggested to help scholars from India attend the workshop.

Taking screenshots or recording the sessions is not allowed.

To register, send an email to