[INDOLOGY] Indologist at Center of Sexual Harassment Mess at Berkeley

C.A. Formigatti caf57 at cam.ac.uk
Thu Oct 6 16:37:37 UTC 2016

Dear Colleagues,

As soon as I read the articles posted by Audrey, I thought that nobody 
would have ever dared to comment them, lest she or he would raise an 
heated discussion. Prof. Slaje had the courage to share his comments and 
I am very grateful to him for this.

Although I am on the side of the three harassed women (since we have 
been incited to take sides), I also believe that Prof. Slaje's argument 
about statistical data is very sound (so, I take both sides, probably 
it's my Italian nature, but I don't want to turn this discussion into a 
racial one).

My first thought was "why is this case particularly relevant for South 
Asian (or if you prefer, Indological) studies?"

I don't think that our field was, is or will be exempt from cases of 
sexual harassment. Why should it be? Are South Asianists or Indologists 
drastically different from all other human beings? This case of 
harassment merely adds another very sad chapter in the history of sexual 
harassment in academia--and hence in the world. It does not have 
anything to do with South Asian studies or Indology, it has to do with 
human nature.

Prof. Valerie Roebuck commented:

"I was glad to have access to a modest bit of information about this 
case. People outside the US will not have seen it in the newspapers, and 
will want to be informed about possible problems if they are thinking of 
recommending the institution to their students."

I disagree. I would still recommend UC Berkeley to female students. Why? 
Because the fact that three brave women had the courage to come forward 
and talk about the harassment they have been exposed to doesn't mean 
that UC Berkeley is more dangerous than any other university. For all we 
know, something similar is happening right now in many other 
universities all over the world. The difference is only that these 
episodes have been brought to light. I hope that in the future more 
women will have the courage to report cases of sexual harassment.

Camillo Formigatti

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