German Indology

Dominik Wujastyk ucgadkw at
Fri Feb 21 13:12:46 UTC 1997

On Fri, 21 Feb 1997, Georg von Simson wrote:

> Nationality is definitely not the criterion used for this booklet - there
> are dozens of non-Germans included. "German Indology" lists 1)
> "institutions and persons concerned with Sanskrit and allied studies" in
> German speaking countries (Germany, Austria, German speaking Switzerland),
> 2) Indologists in other countries whose mother tongue happens to be German
> (like Siegfried Lienhard, a citizen of Sweden, and myself, living in
> Norway). 

Well, I read it differently, as a book about German nationals, but with
additions.  Perhaps I should look again.

> This may be objectionable, but it is rather convenient, after all.

I don' understand why it is convenient.  I mean, of course it is *always*
convenient to have names and addresses, etc., but why is it convenient to
restrict them to German nationals and mother tongue German speakers?  

It's not the raw information that I think would be looked at askance in
the UK, it's the principle of organization chosen.  "Chapter 5:
Indologists in Germany whose mother tongue is English" just seems a
completely impossible proposition from the UK perspective.

I am equally puzzled, incidentally, by the habitual practice of some
authors to identify the nationality of the scholars they quote.  Thus, "It
has been argued by the French scholar NN that such-and-such.  The Finnish
scholar NN disagrees, but the British scholar NN has proposed a compromise
solution."  Scholarship is not football, after all.  I believe the
nationality of scholars is completely beside the point, unless it becomes
the point for some valid reason (for example, if someone were writing
about currents of scholarship that were special to a particular region or
language).  This also bears on the ticklish problem of "Indians and
Westerners", i.e., the argument that a "Westerner" can't write
authoritatively about Indian history or culture, etc.  


All the best,

Dominik Wujastyk               Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine
email: d.wujastyk at          183 Euston Road, London NW1 2BE, England
<URL:>                    FAX: 44 171 611 8545

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