[INDOLOGY] Another Indological Kickstarter project

Lindquist, Steven slindqui at mail.smu.edu
Sat May 18 14:05:13 UTC 2013

Dear Colleagues,

Let me take a somewhat different position.  While exciting and interesting in certain ways, the crowdsourcing of academic work is also troubling and raises ethical issues worth considering.  I'd like to, though, disconnect this completely from any particular project and rather ask the question: is it in our best interest to be raise funds amongst ourselves or turn to the general public for funding?  And, if it is, are certain projects better suited to it than others?

Not only does crowdsourcing of academic work create its own "popularity" system for producing scholarship (traditional grant routes do this as well in supporting particular academic trends, but the key difference in my mind is that there is a formal, learned vetting system, even if it is not ideal).  My larger concern relates to the privatization of funding for research, especially for individuals and for specialized works.  Crowdsourcing of academic work gives an all-too-easy excuse for grant-giving and governmental bodies to disconnect from the funding of individual scholarship altogether.  It does the same for the publishing industry, where they can require or increase already-required subventions.  Arguably, these groups are already doing this in different fashions, especially under current austerity measures and the economic debacle many countries are in, but this sort of crowdsourcing could make their argument radically easy if it were to become at all popular in academic circles.  Who can't envision members of government, when considering funding priorities, stepping back altogether and saying, "If it has any public appeal, the public will fund it" and use crowdsourcing as a justification to cut funding completely?  Or a publisher doing the same in requiring a subvention?  Crowdsourcing scholarship would certainly be appealing to certain university higher admin types who could easily justify eliminating internal funding altogether—especially for the humanities, where "practical value" and larger fund-raising potential are hard arguments to make.

While I am not a fan of slippery-slope type arguments, I wonder if we are hurting ourselves in the long run if we circumvent the standard grant vetting based on an academic market for a different sort of market-driven popularity.  Perhaps certain types of work are more appropriate for crowdsourcing, I don't know.  And, of course, I admit there is still the vetting that takes place with the publisher, though that industry is in flux.  But are we going to see many more of these sorts of appeals?  A future onslaught across list serves?  Or to think it out further: are people going to increasingly turn to colleagues to fund any project they don't get a grant for or don't self-finance? How about requests to fund unfunded dissertation projects? Or to fund [insert name here]?

Obviously, an easy answer is simply "don't participate" if you don't agree with crowdsourcing.  But, as I said, I have mixed feelings (and not simply negative ones) which are about the future of this as a funding possibility and not about any particular project.

My best,


Southern Methodist University
PO Box 750202 | Dallas | TX | 75275

From: Dominik Wujastyk <wujastyk at gmail.com<mailto:wujastyk at gmail.com>>
Date: Saturday, May 18, 2013 3:43 AM
To: Indology <indology at list.indology.info<mailto:indology at list.indology.info>>
Subject: [INDOLOGY] Another Indological Kickstarter project

Our colleague Michael Slouber has launched a project page on Kickstarter<http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1326752800/tantric-medicine> to help him get him finalize a book manuscript on the Garudam medical tradition for submission.

As with the earlier, successful Kickstarter project by Jim Mallinson and Mark Singleton, to write The Roots of Yoga<http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/36604121/the-roots-of-yoga-a-sourcebook-from-the-indian-tra>, I find this new method of crowd-sourcing funding for academic work exciting and interesting. I think it has a real place as a supplement to more familiar methods of fund-raising through applications to centralized finance sources controlled by the bureaucracies that we all love to hate.
​  ​
I might try it myself some time
​ (but Kickstarter is only available in the USA and UK at present).​

I have donated to
​Michael's project and I wish him great success.


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