German Indology

Lars Martin Fosse l.m.fosse at
Sun Feb 23 13:47:25 UTC 1997

Dominik wrote:

>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.  

You are right, Dominik, scholarship is not football (possibly with the
exception of intradepartemental wars), but I am a bit surprised that you get
this kind of association when it comes to mentioning the nationalities of
scholars. I do it myself, and I rather think it makes good sense. Partly
because it has a sort of "literary" effect - I think the text reads better
this way than when you just spring a name on the unsuspecting reader - but
also because it has a mnemotechnic effect. Personally, I belong to that
group of people who have great difficulties remembering names. By adding the
nationality to the name you get an extra memory prop: You have the point of
view expressed, the name *and* the nationality behind the name. It is, of
course, a matter of taste, but I can hardly see the sinister effects that
you seem to feel are lurking in the shadows. But if you personally don't
want to be referred to as "the English scholar Dominik Wujastyk", I can drop
the "English" bit in future publications. A lot of people will then probably
assume that you are Polish. 

Best regards,

Lars Martin

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