The methods for researching biographical interreligious learning processes are those of historical hermeneutics and biographic research. As the main “source of research” is still alive, the basis of research are biographic expert interviews, conducted with Bettina Bäumer at important locations of her life (Salzburg, Rome, Tamil Nadu, Varanasi, Vienna, Orissa, Kashmir). For this we go with her to the locations of biographical learning in the hope that they will stimulate a more exact memory of events and internal processes and thus create a more direct, interactive, dialogical learning process for the researchers. As the research team includes a Hindu and a Christian scholar, the research process will itself be an interreligious dialogical learning experience which will be consciously reflected upon by the researchers.
Furthermore, there is access to diaries, correspondence, manuscripts and other research material. Participant observation in seminars, retreats and the Indian everyday life of Bettina Bäumer complete the picture. The interviews are narrative as well as topic centered. They are transcribed, analyzed, and interpreted using methods of historical hermeneutics and qualitative biography research. The analysis and interpretation will focus on making the concrete interreligious learning processes again into a learning place, which means that they are brought into dialogue with religious studies, sociology of religion, theology of religion, comparative theological, philosophy of religion and postcolonial theories. In this way micro- and macro-historical, personal and collective perspectives will be brought together. We are conducting a qualitative field study in the interreligious field between India and Europe, aimed at making interreligious learning processes open to a better general understanding and broader discourse.
In addition to the interviews with the main protagonist, there will be interviews with a broad array of persons who know Bettina Bäumer from different contexts, such as family, friends, colleagues, companions, students, gurubhais and –bahanen, in English, German and Hindi.