Romila Thapar -- official statement from LC

David Magier magier at COLUMBIA.EDU
Wed Apr 30 09:32:42 UTC 2003

Just for informational purposes, I forward here the official
statement from Library of Congress on this topic, which was forwarded
by our colleague and list-member Allan Thrasher. Given LC's strong
reaffirmation of its appointment of Romila Thapar, I feel confident
that we can now safely ignore the attempted attack on her and on
Indology, and can drop the subject from our list discussions here.

David Magier

Date: Tue, 29 Apr 2003 17:04:13 -0400
From: "Allen W Thrasher" <athr at>
Subject: LC Statement re Thapar appointment

I have been authorized to forward this official statement from the
Director of Scholarly Programs at the Library of Congress about
Professor Thapar's appointment.

Allen Thrasher
Senior Reference Librarian
Asian Division
Library of Congress


        We acknowledge the emails, faxes, and telephone calls from many
people who have been in touch with us either to question or to support
the appointment of Professor Romila Thapar to a Kluge Chair at the
Library of Congress. We are aware that there is an email petition
circulating on the internet alleging that her scholarship is political
propaganda. We also have been in receipt of a large number of
testimonials from noted scholars of Indian history in the United States
and abroad supporting the appointment of Professor Thapar. The volume of
email is such that we are not able to acknowledge each message
individually. In brief, our response is that we are most pleased to have
an Indian historian of Professor Thapar's distinction with us at the
Library of Congress. Her many books already in the collections of the
Library of Congress testify that her work is sympathetic to the ancient
Indian and Hindu historical and cultural traditions in highlighting
their variegated and undogmatic quality, and in making clear the
complexity of Indian civilization.

                                        Prosser Gifford
                                        Director of Scholarly Programs
                                        Library of Congress


At 10:50 PM -0400 4/29/03, George Thompson wrote:
>Dear List,
>While I find myself in great sympathy with Jonathan Silk and Jan Houben, who
>want to preserve this list, as a forum for scholarly discussion, from
>excessive politicization, I myself have seen no violations of the list's
>guidelines.  I also think that the defense of Indology against political
>attacks like this current one, put forward as far as I can tell by a group
>with no scholarly competence whatsoever, is, or should be, an acceptable
>part of Indological discourse.
>Unlike previous versions of this list, this version has been moderated, and
>its members are disciplined as well as well-informed scholars.  As far as I
>can see, there is little danger of this discussion becoming just another
>hysterical shouting match like those that used to occur regularly on the
>previous list.
>An attack on Romila Thapar is an attack on Indology.  As an Indologist, I
>think that she, and our discipline, should be defended from such
>And as a private person living in a nation governed illicitly by a fascist
>minority, I choose not  to stay on the safe side.
>Best wishes,
>George Thompson


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