German Indology

Madhav Deshpande mmdesh at
Mon Feb 24 20:40:30 UTC 1997

	Calling Dominik Wuyastyk a Polish scholar would not be so out of
line.  In a recent review of a book of mine in the American journal
Language, the reviewer refers to me as an Indian scholar, this despite of
my teaching at Michigan for 25 years, and my American passport.  In India,
however, I am pleasantly introduced as a scholar from America.  Whether
one retains both the identities or hangs in the middle really depends upon
one's own construction of identity, but that does not prevent others from
doing their own constructions of your identity. 
	All the best,
				Madhav Deshpande

	I also happen to be married to an Indian woman of American
nationality, and have two Indian daughters born in America, who some day
could run for the office of the President of the United States.  

On Mon, 24 Feb 1997 bpj at wrote:

> Dominik Wujastyk wrote:
> >Yes, please do drop "the English...".  Of course, like anyone, I would be
> >proud of the assumption of Polish nationality, but actually my sense of
> >national affinity is weak to the point of non-existence.  Most of my early
> >life was spent in Madeira, Lisbon, Khartoum, Malakal, Entebbe, and finally
> >Mgarr (a village in Malta).  I came to England for university, and I do
> >hold a British passport, it is true.  But my wife was born in Dar es
> >Salaam, her father in Shanghai, her mother in Sri Lanka, my sister-in-law
> >in Aden, my father in Lublin, my step-brother in Germany, my mother in
> >Kent, etc., etc.  Make of that what you will.  Although I like Britain
> >very much as a place to live and work, I've also had extremely enjoyable
> >sojurns in America, India, and Germany.
> >
> >Perhaps this background accounts for why I find this issue of "German"
> >this, "French" that, and "English" the other so peculiar, and so
> >profoundly irrelevant.
> I agree with you, and now I see why: my grandparents were Swedish,
> Swedish-Norwegian, German-Polish and Ukrainian respectively. Even if that
> makes "Swedish" the largest component in me (3/8) I don't FEEL particularly
> Swedish, because nationality was a non-issue in my background milieu. The
> assumption that any the people of any nation would hold any non-acquired
> traits in common is if not false at least unproven AFAIK. This need to
> label people most certainly reflects at least an unconscious desire to
> imply that they would be biased in some way. It may also be misleading: is
> a "German scholar" could be either or both a German national and a person
> who studies German. Calling me a "Buddhist scholar" might be correct as a
> statement of my religious affiliation, but might easily lead to the wrong
> assumption that Buddhism is my main field of interest (all the more so
> since most people expect Buddhists to have Asian names -- maybe I do so
> too, and maybe that's why you also find my Tibetan dharma-name Ngawang in
> my sig :-/)
> Much more important to me is actually to know if the person I'm writing to
> or about is a male or a female. Alas it is not the custom in English to
> include Mr./Mrs./Miss/Ms. if the person is entitled to an academic title.
> I'm afraid noone wants to attach (m) or (f) or the equivalent (?) iconic <o
> or o+ to their names, unless everybody everywhere would begin to do so all
> at a time.
> Best Regards
> Philip Jonsson Ngawang Dzjiynba, an Earthling and a Man.
> __
> |_) |_  * | * __       __  ___   __ ___ __
> |   | ) | | | |_)      (_ /_|| * (_ /_| (_ *
>               |              |     \
> B.Philip Jonsson <bpj at>
> [I write in Swinglish, if nothing else is said.]
>               _        _    .             _ _
> || Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha ||
> "Peace is not simply the absence of war.
> It is not a passive state of being.
> We must wage peace, as vigilantly as we wage war."
> (XIV Dalai Lama)
> "A coincidence, as we say in Middle-Earth"

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