[INDOLOGY] Fwd: Concerning the International Association of Sanskrit Studies

Ananya Vajpeyi vajpeyi at csds.in
Sun Oct 14 10:16:30 UTC 2018

Dear Colleagues,

It has been 3 months since the World Sanskrit Conference in Vancouver, and
it's heartening to see that fellow-scholars have got together to suggest a
constructive and positive way forward for the IASS. The statement is a
precise formulation of concerns shared by many and a helpful key to what
can be done to address problems that have lingered for years, if not
decades. Thanks to the authors and to current and future signatories, and
to all who have participated vigorously in the debate in good faith, no
matter what their personal views on this or that issue.


Ananya Vajpeyi.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Andrew Ollett <andrew.ollett at gmail.com>
Date: Sun, Oct 14, 2018 at 2:27 PM
Subject: Concerning the International Association of Sanskrit Studies
To: Indology <indology at list.indology.info>

Dear Colleagues,

A number of Sanskrit scholars plan to present the following letter to the
International Association of Sanskrit Studies. We think it's important that
everyone in the field of Sanskrit studies who is concerned about its future
should have the opportunity to read it and add his or her voice. If you
would like to add your name, send a message to iassletter at gmail.com (not to
me, please). After a week or two, the list will be finalized and presented
to the IASS.



Current as of: October 11, 2018

(to sign, send a message to *iassletter at gmail.com <iassletter at gmail.com>*)

To the International Association of Sanskrit Studies:

The extremely well-organized World Sanskrit Conference that recently took
place at the University of British Columbia has given scholars of Sanskrit
all over the world an opportunity to reflect on the state of our field—an
opportunity that was, unfortunately, missed after the controversial events
of the preceding World Sanskrit Conference in Bangkok. According to its
Statute <http://www.sanskritassociation.org/about-us.php>, the purpose of
the International Association of Sanskrit Studies (IASS) is to “to promote,
diversify, intensify and coordinate Sanskrit Studies in all the countries
of the world; to maintain contacts with the organising committee of the
International Congresses of Asian and North African Studies; to organise
international conferences of Sanskrit studies; to promote scholarly
publication of Sanskrit-based studies; to establish and foster relations
with national associations of Sanskrit studies.”

We, the undersigned, believe that the IASS could do much more to “promote,
diversify, intensify and coordinate Sanskrit Studies in all the countries
of the world.” Taking this mission statement seriously would involve
expanding the range of activities of the IASS. More importantly, it would
require the IASS to strenuously avoid any actions or remarks, on the part
of its members and leadership, which can do serious harm to the goal of
fostering Sanskrit Studies globally, and to distance itself, as a
professional organization, from such actions or remarks as already have
been made. The Deutsche Morgenländische Gesellschaft, a former
institutional member of the IASS, has withdrawn
<https://www.dmg-web.de/indologie/iass.html> its membership on precisely
these grounds (see ZDMG 168.1 [2018], p. 253), and it is possible that
other individual and institutional members will follow suit unless the IASS
develops appropriate responses to the challenges currently facing its

Specifically, we would like to see the IASS do the following:


   Make all offices of the Board subject to regular election. Currently the
   offices of General Secretary, Treasurer, and President are not subject to a
   regular election. It is crucial that the members of the association are
   able to elect the leadership of the association on a regular basis.

   Call an election of the Board before the end of 2018. The members of the
   IASS must have the opportunity to decide who will represent them as office
   holders, and above all, as President of the Association.

   Make it absolutely clear that the IASS is a scholarly organization, and
   that membership in the organization, and participation in the World
   Sanskrit Conference, requires a scholarly engagement with Sanskrit.

   Sever any ties, official or unofficial, between the IASS and any
   national governments.

   Create connections between Sanskrit studies and other disciplines. The
   study of Sanskrit has always had the potential for close connections to the
   disciplines of history, philosophy, linguistics, philology, sociology,
   anthropology, literary studies, religious studies, gender studies, and many
   more. The IASS should forge connections between its members and the
   professional organizations that represent those disciplines.

   Form committees devoted to professional issues, publication, research,
   diversity, and programming, which will produce reports on a regular basis

   Originate guidelines for the conduct of future WSC meetings and other
   IASS-sponsored activities that emphasise professionalism, neutrality, and

It may be the case that these changes cannot be implemented without
rewriting the Statute of the IASS. In that case, we request that the IASS
will involve a diverse selection of scholars, drawn from outside the
current Board and Consultative Committee, to assist in making the required
changes, and that this process be as transparent as possible. We also
sincerely request the IASS Board to respond to these suggestions in a
timely manner and apprise the undersigned scholars what steps it will take
and when. We consider these issues to be of utmost importance. We are
concerned that if the IASS does not take appropriate steps as a matter of
urgency, even more scholars will abandon the Association and its
conferences, to the detriment of international Sanskrit studies.

Signed [in alphabetical order],

Yigal Bronner

Jonardon Ganeri

Mrinal Kaul

Jim Mallinson

Andrew Ollett

Karin Preisendanz

Ajay Rao

Isabelle Ratie

Martha Ann Selby

David Shulman

Gary Tubb

Dominik Wujastyk


Ananya Vajpeyi
Fellow and Associate Professor
Centre for the Study of Developing Societies
29 Rajpur Road, Civil Lines
New Delhi 110054
e: vajpeyi at csds.in

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