Hermann Kulke

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Hermann Kulke (born 1938 in Berlin) is a German Historian and Indologist, who was Professor of the South and Southeast Asian History at the Department of History, Kiel University (1988-2003). After receiving his Ph.D. in Indology from Freiburg University in 1967, he taught for 21 years at the South Asia Institute of Heidelberg University (SAI).

He was a founding member of the Orissa Research Project (ORP) of the Southasia Institute (1970–1975), and was coordinator of the second ORP.

Specialization: pre-colonial South and Southeast Asian History; early state formation and historiography; regional cultures of India with emphasis on Orissa; Indianization of Southeast Asia and Indian Ocean Studies.

He was a Visiting Professor at Utkal University, Bhubaneswar (1978–1979), Asiatic Society, Calcutta (1986), and Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi (1992). He was also the Fellow of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, in Singapore (1987) and of the Asia Research Institute of the University of Singapore (2007).

  • In 2005 he received the Gold Medal of the Asiatic Society of Kolkata.
  • In 2010 he was awarded the order of Padma Shri by the President of India.
  • The Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany was awarded to him by the President of Germany in 2011.


  • Cidambaramahatmya (Ph.D., Wiesbaden 1970)
  • The Cult of Jagannath and the Regional Tradition of Orissa (Delhi 1978, with A. Eschmann and G.C. Tripathi)
  • The Devaraja Cult (Cornell University 1978)
  • Jagannath Cult and Gajapaati Kingship (Jagannatha-Kult und Gajapati-Königtum. Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte religiöser Legitimation hinduistischer Herrscher, D.Litt-Habilitation, Stuttgart 1979, in German)
  • A History of India (together with Dietmar Rothermund, German 1982, 5th Engl. ed. 2010)
  • Hinduism Reconsidered (Delhi 1989, 2nd ed. 1997, with G.D. Sontheimer)
  • Kings and Cults - State Formation and Legitimation in India and Southeast Asia (Delhi 1993)
  • Editor of The State in India 1000-1700 (Delhi 1993, 2nd ed. in preparation).
  • Indian History until 1750 (Indische Geschichte bis 1750, Munich 2005, Engl. ed. in preparation)
  • Co-editor of Nagapatinam to Suvarnadwipa. Reflections on the Chola Naval Expeditions to Southeast Asia (Singapore 2009)
  • Co-editor of Centres Out There? Facets of Sub-regional Traditions in Orissa (Delhi 2010)
  • Co-editor of Rituals and the State in India (Wiesbaden 2010)


  • S. Conerman, J.Kusber, (eds.) Studia Eurasiatica. Kieler Festschrift für Hermann Kulke (2003)
  • Schnepel, Burkhard; Berkemer, Georg: History of the Model, in: Berkemer, Georg; Frenz, Margret (eds.), Sharing Sovereignty - The Little Kingdom in South Asia, Berlin 2003
  • Berkemer, Georg; Frenz, Margret: The Role of Hermann Kulke, in: Berkemer, Georg; Frenz, Margret (eds.), Sharing Sovereignty - The Little Kingdom in South Asia, Berlin 2003
  • M.Brandtner, S.K.Panda (eds.), Interrogating History. Essays for Hermann Kulke (2006)

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