[INDOLOGY] Concerning the International Association of Sanskrit Studies

Andrew Ollett andrew.ollett at gmail.com
Sun Oct 21 08:36:22 EDT 2018


Dear colleagues,

Just a note that we will be accepting signatures until Wednesday, Oct. 24.
Please also feel free to share the letter with colleagues.

sānunayam,

Andrew

On Sun, Oct 14, 2018 at 4:57 AM Andrew Ollett <andrew.ollett at gmail.com>
wrote:

> Dear Colleagues,
>
> A number of Sanskrit scholars plan to present the following letter to the
> International Association of Sanskrit Studies. We think it's important that
> everyone in the field of Sanskrit studies who is concerned about its future
> should have the opportunity to read it and add his or her voice. If you
> would like to add your name, send a message to iassletter at gmail.com (not
> to me, please). After a week or two, the list will be finalized and
> presented to the IASS.
>
> Andrew
>
> ------------------------------------
>
> Current as of: October 11, 2018
>
> (to sign, send a message to *iassletter at gmail.com <iassletter at gmail.com>*)
>
>
> To the International Association of Sanskrit Studies:
>
>
> The extremely well-organized World Sanskrit Conference that recently took
> place at the University of British Columbia has given scholars of Sanskrit
> all over the world an opportunity to reflect on the state of our field—an
> opportunity that was, unfortunately, missed after the controversial events
> of the preceding World Sanskrit Conference in Bangkok. According to its
> Statute <http://www.sanskritassociation.org/about-us.php>, the purpose of
> the International Association of Sanskrit Studies (IASS) is to “to promote,
> diversify, intensify and coordinate Sanskrit Studies in all the countries
> of the world; to maintain contacts with the organising committee of the
> International Congresses of Asian and North African Studies; to organise
> international conferences of Sanskrit studies; to promote scholarly
> publication of Sanskrit-based studies; to establish and foster relations
> with national associations of Sanskrit studies.”
>
> We, the undersigned, believe that the IASS could do much more to “promote,
> diversify, intensify and coordinate Sanskrit Studies in all the countries
> of the world.” Taking this mission statement seriously would involve
> expanding the range of activities of the IASS. More importantly, it would
> require the IASS to strenuously avoid any actions or remarks, on the part
> of its members and leadership, which can do serious harm to the goal of
> fostering Sanskrit Studies globally, and to distance itself, as a
> professional organization, from such actions or remarks as already have
> been made. The Deutsche Morgenländische Gesellschaft, a former
> institutional member of the IASS, has withdrawn
> <https://www.dmg-web.de/indologie/iass.html> its membership on precisely
> these grounds (see ZDMG 168.1 [2018], p. 253), and it is possible that
> other individual and institutional members will follow suit unless the IASS
> develops appropriate responses to the challenges currently facing its
> future.
>
> Specifically, we would like to see the IASS do the following:
>
>    -
>
>    Make all offices of the Board subject to regular election. Currently
>    the offices of General Secretary, Treasurer, and President are not subject
>    to a regular election. It is crucial that the members of the association
>    are able to elect the leadership of the association on a regular basis.
>    -
>
>    Call an election of the Board before the end of 2018. The members of
>    the IASS must have the opportunity to decide who will represent them as
>    office holders, and above all, as President of the Association.
>    -
>
>    Make it absolutely clear that the IASS is a scholarly organization,
>    and that membership in the organization, and participation in the World
>    Sanskrit Conference, requires a scholarly engagement with Sanskrit.
>    -
>
>    Sever any ties, official or unofficial, between the IASS and any
>    national governments.
>    -
>
>    Create connections between Sanskrit studies and other disciplines. The
>    study of Sanskrit has always had the potential for close connections to the
>    disciplines of history, philosophy, linguistics, philology, sociology,
>    anthropology, literary studies, religious studies, gender studies, and many
>    more. The IASS should forge connections between its members and the
>    professional organizations that represent those disciplines.
>    -
>
>    Form committees devoted to professional issues, publication, research,
>    diversity, and programming, which will produce reports on a regular basis
>    .
>    -
>
>    Originate guidelines for the conduct of future WSC meetings and other
>    IASS-sponsored activities that emphasise professionalism, neutrality, and
>    independence.
>
> It may be the case that these changes cannot be implemented without
> rewriting the Statute of the IASS. In that case, we request that the IASS
> will involve a diverse selection of scholars, drawn from outside the
> current Board and Consultative Committee, to assist in making the required
> changes, and that this process be as transparent as possible. We also
> sincerely request the IASS Board to respond to these suggestions in a
> timely manner and apprise the undersigned scholars what steps it will take
> and when. We consider these issues to be of utmost importance. We are
> concerned that if the IASS does not take appropriate steps as a matter of
> urgency, even more scholars will abandon the Association and its
> conferences, to the detriment of international Sanskrit studies.
>
> Signed [in alphabetical order],
>
>
> Yigal Bronner
>
> Jonardon Ganeri
>
> Mrinal Kaul
>
> Jim Mallinson
>
> Andrew Ollett
>
> Karin Preisendanz
>
> Ajay Rao
>
> Isabelle Ratie
>
> Martha Ann Selby
>
> David Shulman
>
> Gary Tubb
>
> Dominik Wujastyk
>
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