Dominik Wujastyk ucgadkw at
Thu Feb 27 18:10:39 UTC 1997

On Wed, 26 Feb 1997, Robert J. Zydenbos wrote:

> It seems to me that people who take offence to the term "Indo-Germanic"
> are somewhat like those in India who object to the word "Dravidian"
> because the word "" would refer only to Tamil. IG is just a
> label for the kind of languages which are in prominent use between
> Bengal and Iceland -- just as the kind of langauges which are in use
> mainly in southern India, in the general direction of the Tamil area,
> are labelled Dravidian, even if these languages are also found in
> Pakistan and Nepal (because one has to call them *something*).

Well, it was Anandavardhana who provided perhaps the most refined and
perceptive exploration ever written of the concept of dhvani, and that is
what we are dealing with here.  To deny the "resonances" of the term
"Indogermanic" is disingenuous indeed.  Sheldon Pollock's article "Deep
Orientalism: notes on Sanskrit and Power beyond the Raj" in _Orientalism
and the Postcolonial Predicament_, ed. Carol A. Breckenbridge and Peter
van der Veer (Philadelpha, U. Penn., 1993) includes a masterly survey of
the links that existed between many German indologists active at the
beginning of the 20th century and the National Socialist party.  As
Pollock shows clearly, the terms "Indogermanisch", "Indogermanen", and so
on, occurred frequently as part of a self-conscious quest for the Aryan
Urheimat which was so prominent a theme in both the Nazi party and in
German indology in the 1930s. Today, I can see no justification whatsoever
for using the term "Indo-Germanic", when the altogether more accurate,
untainted, well-understood, and uncontroversial term "Indo-European" is in
already in widespread use. 

Anyone whose head is spinning (as mine is) with all these postings on
German indology might be comforted by something Pollock says (p.79):

   "I have no illusions that I have successfully negotiated all the strong
whirlpools, epistemological, political, and moral, that confront anyone
approaching the history of German Indology, still less so the problem of
writing a history of cultural power in a precolonial world from within a
postcolonial one (particularly the problem that such cultural critique
sometimes might seem to recapitulate the very colonial discourse it seeks
to transcend)." 

It's a fine article: recommended.  Two other very thoughtful and
thought-provoking contributions on why we ("we"?) do indology are those
delivered at the 1994 Kovalam symposium by Bob Goldman ("Drinking from our
Father's Well: the Past, Present and Future of Indology and South Asian
Studies") and Wilhelm Halbfass ("The Eurocentric Approach to India and the
Indian Discovery of Europe"), both now published in _The Perennial Tree_,
ed. K. Satchidananda Murty and Amit Dasgupta (New Delhi, ICCR and New Age
International, 1996).  Some other good articles too, in the same volume. 

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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