German Indology

L.S. Cousins mhcrxlc at
Wed Feb 26 15:07:47 UTC 1997

"Robert J. Zydenbos" <zydenbos at>

>Now that the agitation of Feb. 21-22 about "German Indology" has calmed
>down, and seeing that this is largely a squibble between German and
>Germany-based colleagues and Anglosaxons, I think I will take the
>liberty to arbitrate (perhaps unnecessarily by now) with a few thoughts.

Who are these Anglosaxons ?

The Scottish scholar John Brockington actually posted in support of the
booklet. Personally, I have only one complaint about it - I wasn't sent a
copy :-) Most British scholars were conspicuously silent on this matter.

I personally am always very happy to see books on German Indology or any
other kind of Indology - I tend to pick up things I have missed that way.

Dominik Wujastyk was, however, quite right that there is one tendency today
in England to be anti-nationalistic. I don't myself agree with it but it is
definitely there.

>Is nationality (in the sense of a cultural tradition, associated with a
>language) a relevant factor in scholarship? Of course it is. Anyone who
>has learnt to read German, French and English (e.g. any Dutch high
>school pupil) and has done some reading in those languages can tell you
>so. There are differences in interest, emphasis, approach / methodology,
>standards of thoroughness. And this diversity is a Good Thing.

I couldn't agree more.

>Let us be frank: Anglosaxons today revel in an ethnocentricity and
>language chauvinism that is unprecedented in world history. This is so
>strong that they are largely unaware of it. (I invite the list members
>to keep their eyes open for publications in which the word "Western"
>evidently excludes everything that is not written by Americans or
>Britons. Such publications exist; I have seen them.) And this
>Anglocentricness has been successfully exported to places such as India.
>This is a Bad And Stupid Thing.

There you go again. 'Anglosaxons'. You mean Americans (and
American-influenced Indians). British scholars are perfectly well aware of
this kind of language chauvinism. (Heavens they are even trying to force us
to change our own language !)  Good British scholars do indeed read works
in other languages and don't, I believe, share the kind of ethnocentricity
you are referring to.

L.S. Cousins

Email: mhcrxlc at

More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list