Indology and "the disastrous ideology of the 'pure Aryan race'"

gruenendahl gruenen at MAIL.SUB.UNI-GOETTINGEN.DE
Fri Jan 5 15:45:23 UTC 2007

Dear Jan,
I have no idea which fate had a hand in this failed delivery, but anyway, I've
been able to open your mail dated  Thu, 4 Jan 2007 04:31:24 -
0800 from home, and I came back to send you at least these comments:

In whatever mind I read your report before, and I have read it quite a few 
times, I assure you, I now learn that it cannot have been a "detached 
scholarly" one. If this remark is already part of your argument, I really don't 
know what to reply.

Now, a "detached scholarly mind" (like yours, I suppose) would have seen 
that you
"refer to 'selected articles and notices of the volumes 92-98 (1938-44) and 
99 (1945-49) of the Zeitschrift für die Deutsche Morgenländische 
Gesellschaft' NOT to support the claims made in any article (...), but to 
illustrate the promising continuity with a discontinuous past which was one 
of the topics of that memorable meeting in Leipzig".

This almost sounds as if you referred to the ZDMG for no particular purpose 
at all. Now, the paragraph from which you take this quote is headed 
"Vergangenheit Bewaltigung" and deals specifically and exclusively with 
"some of the more problematic aspects of the history" of "German 
indology", not with general aspects of continuity and discontinuity, as you 
now try to assert. And it is in this context, particularly with regard to "the 
disastrous ideology of the 'pure Aryan race'" that you refer to Pollock and 
"selected articles and notices" of the ZDMG. Doesn't it come as a natural 
conclusion to the reader that those ominous articles of the  ZDMG (of 
course, you don't name one) support that ideology in one way or another?
But let's say you didn't refer to these articles as evidence for "positive 
relations which some indologists at least maintained with the German 
government and its disastrous ideology of the 'pure Aryan race'", what other 
evidence can you name in support of these "positive relations", if not the 
ZDMG - which say nothing of the kind, I may remind you with reference to 
my article?

I have no intention to discuss any particulars of Pollock's article before we 
are through with your report, but  the stance that it has "proven its healthy 
provocative character ever since" is just the all-purpose post-orientalist 
'argument' along the lines of "Said's 'Orientalism' (or you name it ...) may be 
bogus, but it did so much good just the same!" I beg to differ on that!

As for the various writings you adduce post festum, is this to be taken as an 
indication that your report cannot stand on its own feet in this regard? And 
now you want to see my book first, and a thesis from Aix-Marseille ... 
anything else I can help out with, perhaps? I feel like I'm taken on a Cook's 
tour, if you don't mind me saying this.

One last thing I have time for today: I didn't know that your publications 
have a kind of sell-by date attached to them. So please enlighten my: is 
your 1995 report now obsolete, although it is still riding the waves on the 
web, or has it become some kind of classic that is beyond the nit-picking of 
ordinary mortals?

In view of the evidence so far (your articles haven't arive yet)I should like to 
reassert my questions:

Does Professor Houben or any other member of this list maintain any of the  
following positions 
(all quoted from his paper: 

1) That there was a "positive relations which some indologists at least maintained 
with the German government 
 and its disastrous ideology of the 'pure Aryan race' before and during the period of 
the Second World War period", 
 and if so, where do these relations surface in indological writings of that period? 

2) that "selected articles and notices of the volumes 92-98 (1938-44) and 99 (1945-
49) of 
 the Zeitschrift [der] Deutsche[n] Morgenländische[n] Gesellschaft" would yield any 
 in support of position #1, and if so, which; 

3) that "S. Pollock's provocative "Deep Orientalism: Notes on Sanskrit and Power 
Beyond the Raj" 
 (in Van der Veer and Beckenridge, The Postcolonial Predicament, Philadelphia, 
1993)", make  
 "essential reading for a well-informed discussion" in so far as [my addition:] it 
contains an intellectually 
 sound argument in support of his claims or position #1, and if so, which. 

That's all I have time for due to reduced opening hours.



Dr. Reinhold Gruenendahl
Niedersaechsische Staats- und Universitaetsbibliothek
Fachreferat sued- und suedostasiatische Philologien
(Dept. of Indology)

37070 Goettingen, Germany
Tel (+49) (0)5 51 / 39 52 83
Fax (+49) (0)5 51 / 39 23 61
gruenen at

In English:

GRETIL - Goettingen Register of Electronic Texts in Indian Languages

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