[INDOLOGY] Fwd: [RISA-L LIST] FW: In ACLS Haskins Prize Lecture, Doniger Talks Life, Heresy in Hinduism, and Attempts to Suppress Scholarship

Dominik Wujastyk wujastyk at gmail.com
Thu Jul 16 15:40:15 UTC 2015

Forwarded from RISA-L

  From: ACLS News <news at ACLS.org>
Date: Wednesday, July 15, 2015 at 3:38 PM
To: Diana Eck <dianaeck at fas.harvard.edu>
Subject: In ACLS Haskins Prize Lecture, Doniger Talks Life, Heresy in
Hinduism, and Attempts to Suppress Scholarship

*In ACLS Haskins Prize Lecture, Wendy Doniger Talks Life, Heresy in
Hinduism, and Attempts to Suppress Scholarship*

July 15, 2015

NEW YORK – The American Council of Learned Societies today has made
available on its website the full video of a lecture made by Wendy Doniger,
renowned scholar of Hinduism and mythology, at the Council’s annual meeting
this year in May. In the 2015 ACLS Charles Homer Haskins Prize Lecture,
Doniger reminisced with warmth and wit about her colorful childhood and
education in Great Neck, New York, and later at Harvard and Oxford
Universities and in India. She also described candidly the controversy
ignited by her writing in recent years, including the court order obtained
by conservative activists in India to remove her book *The Hindus: An
Alternative History* from bookshelves and have all copies pulped.

Doniger, who mordantly refers to the last decade of storms over her
scholarship as “my Indian wars,” has produced over 30 books and numerous
scholarly articles on topics as diverse as epic poetry, ancient art, and
gender studies. Looking back at her publications to date, Doniger reflected
that “the red thread through all of them seems to be the intersecting
themes of rebellion and masquerade. More recently, I have been drawn away
from masquerade, and into rebellion.”

Introducing the lecture, ACLS President Pauline Yu observed that “the new
knowledge that comes from research can—indeed, will—be unsettling to many.
Professor Doniger has needed all her evident wit and determination to
persist with her probing scholarship in the face of threats and harassment
from both anonymous and organized opponents offended by her explorations of
sexuality in myth and religion.”

“I’ve always felt that what I do is translation both in the literal sense,
translating Sanskrit text into English . . . and in the broader sense of
translating India for Americans,” Doniger said. Yu also stressed Doniger’s
skill as a cultural translator: “She has taken on the great challenge of
the humanities: to make complex phenomena of human creativity meaningful
across time, space, and language.”

Haskins Prize Lecturers are asked to reflect on “a life of learning,” and
Doniger does just that, tracing the roots of her prodigious scholarly
career to a childhood guided by parents who thoroughly instilled a love of
books, and to an early fascination with Indian civilization. Discussing her
reading, as an adolescent, of Aubrey Menen’s “wickedly satirical retelling”
of the Hindu epic the Ramayana, Doniger notes, “I didn’t know then that
Menen’s book had already been banned in India under Indian Penal Code 295a.
And of course I could not know that I would run headlong into that same law
over half a century later.”

Doniger's lecture can be viewed at www.acls.org/media/haskins/

Wendy Doniger is the Mircea Eliade Distinguished Service Professor of the
History of Religions at the University of Chicago.

*About the American Council of Learned Societies*
ACLS, a private, nonprofit federation of 73 national scholarly
organizations, is the preeminent representative of American scholarship in
the humanities and related social sciences. Advancing scholarship by
awarding fellowships and strengthening relations among learned societies is
central to our work. Other activities include support for scholarly
conferences, reference works, and scholarly communication innovations.

*About the Haskins Prize*
Named for the first chairman of ACLS, the Charles Homer Haskins Prize
Lecture has as its theme "A Life of Learning." The lecturer is asked “to
reflect on a lifetime of work as a scholar and an institution builder, on
the motives, the chance determinations, the satisfactions (and
dissatisfactions) of the life of learning, to explore through one’s own
life the larger, institutional life of scholarship.” The lecture is
delivered at the ACLS annual meeting and published in the ACLS Occasional
Paper series. The entire series is available online at

Contact: news at acls.org, 212.697.1505 x144, for media inquiries and for
information about how to embed Wendy Doniger’s Haskins Prize Lecture on
your website.

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