[INDOLOGY] Sexism and Bias on INDOLOGY governing committee

Ram-Prasad, Chakravarthi c.ram-prasad at lancaster.ac.uk
Tue Apr 2 13:50:38 UTC 2019

Dear Audrey,

I should start with noting that we do not know each other and have never met or been in communication. So I do not speak on a personal matter. But it is clear time and again that men not acknowledging claims about sexism and bias do contribute to the perpetuation of these issues. I think that, rationally, there would be no other reason than actual experience for you to have got to the point of making this post, as it surely will be a matter of discomfort to make your statement openly. Consequently, I would just like to acknowledge that there seems to me to be no situation in which it is somehow impossible that bias exists and/or should not be talked about.

When it comes to the consequences beyond the acknowledgement that you have spoken up as you have for a reason, and an acceptance that we must talk about it, I do see the point that Prof Silk is making, in that it is impossible for anyone on the list who is unaware of the details of the situation to say anything meaningful. We will all be aware that any next step will open a can of worms, as details cannot but hurt people (including yourself, of course). I would support any discussion that asks how we may work in a civilized and supportive manner to proceed with this, and I hope that the tone of what might become an agonized discussion about various interconnected issues is balanced between the personal hurt that will lie at the heart of this matter and the concern for the future of Indology and INDOLOGY that should motivate us.

Best wishes,


Chakravarthi Ram-Prasad
Fellow of the British Academy
Distinguished Professor of Comparative Religion and Philosophy
Department of Politics, Philosophy and Religion
Lancaster University LA1 4YL

From: INDOLOGY <indology-bounces at list.indology.info> on behalf of Audrey Truschke via INDOLOGY <indology at list.indology.info>
Sent: 02 April 2019 08:55:13
To: Indology List
Subject: [INDOLOGY] Sexism and Bias on INDOLOGY governing committee

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

I am writing to call your attention to the entrenched, worsening sexism I have been experiencing on the INDOLOGY governing committee over the past year or so (I have served on the committee for six years). Other committee members have warned me not to publicly discuss the bullying and abuse that I have faced from them in private. I break my silence and go against their explicit instructions here.

I have repeatedly faced sexism within the INDOLOGY governing committee, ranging from patronizing comments to silencing of discussions about bias to overtly different standards applied to male and female members of the committee and list. I have tried many times to raise these issues internally among the committee and privately with specific individuals. I have been met with blanket denials, belittling of my concerns, declarations that discussing sexism is not a substantive issue, accusations of being a troublemaker, and flat out refusals to discuss gender issues. Indology as a discipline has deep-seated issues with male privilege, discrimination against female scholars, and even outright misogyny. The issues within INDOLOGY's male-dominated governing committee are arguably a reflection of this larger set of problems that systematically drives women out of the discipline. If Indology or INDOLOGY are going to survive in any worthwhile form, we must face our ongoing issues of sexism and bias. I have made numerous suggestions to the INDOLOGY governing committee in this regard, including striving for gender parity on the committee by adding more female members, conducting committee business more openly as a check on bullying, and undergoing bias training. I hope the committee follows up on these suggestions. But, to date, I have seen only a desire to circle the wagons and deny bias, rather than any serious attempt to make the committee or the list a more equitable place.

Last week, following another case where I documented and called out a committee member for acting with bias, that committee member wrote that if he were in my position, he would consider resigning from the committee. In other words, if I find members of the INDOLOGY committee discriminate against women, then I should bow out. I find that suggestion highly inappropriate, and I do not acquiesce to it here. But I will no longer serve as a punching bag for men who insist I keep quiet.

I expect to face significant pushback and recriminations for shedding light on the dark underbelly of the INDOLOGY governing committee. But, unlike many of my fellow committee members, I think that this is an issue for the list at large. Many of us, myself included, find scholarly value in this listserv. But knowledge exists within power structures, and I find that I can no longer stomach what I have to overlook in order to quietly run this forum. I think it is time for us to talk about the key issues of bias and sexism facing our discipline that make women unwelcome at every turn, including in running this listserv.

All the best,


Audrey Truschke
Assistant Professor
Department of History
Rutgers University-Newark

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