[INDOLOGY] From Professors in Chennai, on Pollock / MCLI

Ananya Vajpeyi vajpeyi at csds.in
Thu Mar 10 05:19:39 UTC 2016

Dear Colleagues,

Below a message from a group of academics based in Chennai, regarding the
petition against Professor Pollock and the MCLI.




The recent attacks by self-styled “Indian” scholars on Professor Sheldon
Pollock further heightens a systematic campaign to vilify any type of
serious academic investigation of India’s pasts. This is a small-minded and
parochial effort at best, but more darkly, an attempt to reorient any
permissible interpretation of South Asian history towards serving a deeply
conservative Hindutva agenda.

The study of early texts and artefacts originating in the subcontinent is
not the exclusive privilege of ethnic Indians, any more than the study of
classical Rome or Greece ‘belongs’ only to modern Italians and Greeks.
Indeed, if scholarship of these latter domains had been so limited,
humanity as a whole might have lost extensive literary and cultural
treasures ranging from Aeschylus to Lucretius to the dustbin of history.
Efforts such as the Murty Classical Library require disinterested and
meticulous scholarship to rediscover similar literary assets and make them
available to a wider global audience. They must not be left to the
mischievous interpretation of ideologues.

We note also that Prof Pollock has been speciously misquoted. For instance,
please see:



3. "This is the conviction that animates this book: that the literatures of
South Asia constitute one of the great achievements of human
creativity.  In their antiquity, continuity, and multicultural complexity
combined, they are unmatched in world literary history and unrivaled in the
resources they offer for understanding the development of expressive
language and imagination over time and in relation to larger orders of
culture, society, and polity."

Pollock (2003): Literary Cultures in History, University of California
Press, Page 2.

We urge scholars everywhere to support Prof Pollock’s continued role as
curator of these materials, if only because he has spent decades of
painstaking and careful research into the enormous variety of literary
cultures in India’s long history and has surely earned the right to direct
an academically rigorous effort to build the library.

Sudhir Chella Rajan, Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Madras

Arvind Sivaramakrishnan, Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Madras

Kalpana Karunakaran, Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Madras

Milind Brahme, Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Madras

Ajit Menon, MIDS, Chennai

C. Lakshmanan, MIDS, Chennai

S. Anandhi, MIDS, Chennai

Kripa Ananthpur, MIDS, Chennai

D. Jayaraj, MIDS, Chennai

Vijaybaskar, MIDS, Chennai

A. Mangai, Chennai

PK Abdul Rahiman, Madras University, Chennai


*Ananya Vajpeyi, PhD *
*Associate Fellow*
*Centre for the Study of Developing Societies*
*29 Rajpur Road, Civil Lines*
*New Delhi 110054*
*e: vajpeyi at csds.in <vajpeyi at csds.in>*
*ext: 229*




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