Inappropriate post

Steve Farmer saf at SAFARMER.COM
Wed Oct 25 20:00:44 UTC 2000

Alok Kumar, whom I don't know from Manu, as it were, in the last

1. Included data in a post about my personal life (20 October),
taken from a passing remark of mine, defending myself from
charges of racism, on a extreme nationalistic List that I
participated in for a few days only. (I no longer receive email
from that List, which I briefly joined to answer personal attacks
following the recent Frontline article that I wrote with M.
Witzel). I was quickly forced to leave that List after receiving
repeated physical threats -- whatever the pretext, all clearly
related to my writing that article.

2. Claimed on this List (21 October) that I had "desecrate[d] a
whole generation of Indian scientists and engineers." Kumar's
claim was based on my starting a thread questioning whether
overly narrow technical training might have *something* to do
with the strange distortions of Indian history seen in writers
like Rajaram and Kak. My question is a valid one and still
stands. (To V. Sundaresan, Bijoy Misra, and others here whom I
respect: I certainly did *not* have all Indian engineers and
scientists with historical interests in mind.)

3. Now (25 October) Kumar wants to start a special thread
carrying my name to discuss my "academic training, the jobs that
[I] have held in the past, and a list of relevant publications"
in order to "help the members of both [sic!] lists as they view
your posts frequently." The other List that Kumar is referring to
is obviously the extreme nationalist List (indictraditions, in
which I briefly joined to answer attacks on me by Vishal Agarwal
and others) where I received the repeated physical threats.

So far as my academic qualifications go, Mr. Kumar, I have
already discussed them far more on the Web (including a post
several days ago on this List) than anyone is normally expected
to reveal. Not that my qualifications are any of your business,
but they include a Ph.D. in cultural history from a top US
university; nearly twenty years teaching in higher institutions
in the US (with a post-doc seminar scheduled in Germany in 2001);
past research fellowships from the National Endowment for the
Humanities (two of them), Harvard University, and other major
institutions or foundations; substantial peer-reviewed
publications (including a 595-page book) in premodern history;
and participation in many academic forums (the most recent an
invited presentation at a Sinological conference less than two
weeks ago, also attended by M. Witzel). I am a comparative
historian and not an Indologist, but I claim that comparative
history has a lot to contribute to Indology. Obviously some
people in the field share that opinion.

Beyond this data, I am certainly am *not* going to post a
curriculum vitae here with detailed personal information for your
benefit. Nor do I think that Dominik would approve any such thing.

Steve Farmer

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