Karl Reinhold Haellquist, 1931 - 2000

Karl Reinhold Haellquist was a historian whose career was dedicated to promoting the knowledge of South Asia. He was born and raised in Helsingborg and went on to study at Lund University. In his youth he became interested in the works of Rabindranath Tagore (1861 — 1941). It was the beginning of a lifelong commitment to historical research on South Asia and India in particular. Despite the fact that none of his professors shared his interest, he received a one-year fellowship to Delhi, where he spent a great deal of time at the Imperial Archives investigating the Indian Independence movement and Gandhi's role in particular. He befriended several veterans of that struggle who were able to help him in his research.

Haellquist then returned to Sweden, where he continued his studies and began to lecture on India and Gandhi. He went on to write several high school textbooks on India, Pakistan, and South Asia. Much of this work was done in collaboration with his wife, Inger Sondén-Haellquist. Over the years, he served as an inspiration for other instructors of history in the Swedish school system, whom he not only encouraged, but provided with a solid basis for their teaching. By combining historical data with enthusiasm, respect, and love for South Asia, he produced books and supporting materials that were warmly received. At the time, the average Swedish citizen had very little knowledge of South Asia. The region was generally viewed as fascinating for its exotic elements and deep-rooted poverty. However, Haellquist never indulged in the sensational or the Eurocentric, directing his efforts instead toward producing a holistic portrait of the region and its people — an approach that was rare at the time and for which he will be long remembered.
Read an obituary written by Staffan Lindberg and Lars Eklund after K R Haellquist’s demise (in Swedish only, as a pdf-file)