Patricia Sauthoff sauthoff at ualberta.ca
Thu Jun 27 20:42:47 UTC 2019

Dear all,

Rather than continue this conversation with politically charged attacks
like " self-styled SJW
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_justice_warrior>s" I would like to
bring to your attention that one of the founding board members of AAIS has
deep connections to the efforts to shut down academic freedom and

One of the founding board members of AAIS is also on the board of Nalanda
University in Bihar, India. I taught at Nalanda several years ago, helping
to found the School of Buddhist Studies, Philosophy, and Comparative
Religion. There I taught several courses -- Sanskrit, courses on Religious
Studies theories and methods -- most importantly, The History and Politics
of Yoga. After my contract was not renewed and I was given no reason, I had
to argue with the university about my final pay (which I have never
received). In the course of that fight I contacted every member of the
Nalanda board. Only one ever responded. Several months after I was supposed
to receive my final pay (for July 2017) I woke up to an email from a
journalist asking me if I had any response to Ram Madhav's tweet
about my course. (You can see the many awful things that were said about me
below, what you cannot see are the private messages I received threatening
rape and death if I ever returned to India). You can read more about this
incident here

In that second link you will see that I was ordered to apologize for
speaking up for myself and issued a veiled threat of "appropriate action"
if I continued to speak about this issue. I again wrote to many Nalanda
board members, including one of the founding board members of AAIS. Again,
I received no response. I have invited that same board member to my talks
at several conferences, they have not come to my talks or responded in any

I will also note that this board member joined the Nalanda board after an
RSS-linked administration was put into place. That board member certainly
did not speak up for academic integrity at that or any other point. I am
offended that an organization would publish a conference listing on this
list of international scholars when one of its own board members remained
silent (and in my mind complicit) with these threats.

Nalanda has now lost nearly all its foreign faculty (and students from my
understanding). This is, of course, what the administration wanted. I am
not surprised by their actions but I am disheartened that not a single
member of their board, full of esteemed academics, did not at least speak
out against the violent threats made toward me. I am angry that not one of
them spoke up for academic freedom.

There is your clear link between AAIS and Hindutva.

Patricia Sauthoff

On Wed, Jun 26, 2019 at 5:28 AM Koenraad Elst via INDOLOGY <
indology at list.indology.info> wrote:

> Dear listfolk,
> Seems a just-begun draft made it to my outbox. Anyway, this will make
> my analysis a lot shorter and more readable.
> The many Sanskritists and other ivory-tower-dwellers on this list will
> not like the irruption of politics into their lofty discipline. But
> like it or not, Indology just happens to be far more politicized than
> e.g. Sinology. So I for one don't mind accepting Tyler Williams'
> apologies for troubling us with the politics of it all. And he in turn
> shouldn't mind comments on his position, by Nagaraj and now by me,
> especially since he chooses to burden this list with an in-your-face
> allegation against a fellow list member.
> >With all due respect to the colleague who posted this announcement, I
> must express serious misgivings about the nature of the proposed
> "conference," so serious that I am uncomfortable with the Indology
> listserve being used to promote this event.<
> He surely hasn't missed his entrée. Right away, he leaves us in no
> doubt about where he stands. It is customary for a certain ideological
> school, the self-styled SJWs, to deny its adversaries legitimacy for
> not only the contents but even for the definitional status of their
> "publications". As a marked "scholar" with a "PhD" who writes "books"
> and "papers", I recognize from afar the political implications of the
> expression "conference". As if it were anything else than a
> conference. And I don't get disappointed, for the next part of the
> opening sentence already is a request for deplatforming his chosen
> adversary, -- deplatforming being the absolute favourite in very that
> school's armoury. That just begs to be "problematized".
> >There is no delicate way to put it: the AAIS is a Hindutva ideological
> project with specious intellectual foundations that is not only hostile to
> the disciplines and work of many of the scholars on this list but that also
> aligns itself with a politics that encourages harassment and even violence
> against our colleagues in India.<
> "Even violence"? My oh my, what have we got here on this list?
> Lavanya, is that you?
> But I do know of a target of Leftist violence, viz. Vivek Agnihotri,
> the coiner of the term "Urban Naxal", to which Williams objects. It is
> a verifiable fact that several Leftist public figures, from Sanjay
> Dutt on down, have physically made common cause with terrorists; and
> that hundreds have verbally supported terrorists. Personally I think
> that that is allowed, you could e.g. give reasoned arguments for
> Kashmiri separatism all while this cause is equally defended with
> terror by others. But to oppose it is equally permitted, and it seems
> Hindus are no longer taking it lying down and have joined the battle
> of discourse. As an ex-Marxist, I think the adoption of such colourful
> fighting terms tends to be a crucial moment in the history of an
> emancipation movement.
> And "Hindutva" project? The story of this recent "Indic" movement is
> precisely a concern to distance themselves from the legitimate
> "Hindutva" crowd, meaning the HMS and Sangh Parivar, who swear by
> "nationalism". The more successful the Parivar has become politically,
> the hazier and clumsier it has become ideologically, so it is facing
> several budding alternatives within Hindu politics. A first paper of
> mine about this is already 8 years old
> (
> https://koenraadelst.blogspot.com/2011/08/hindu-activism-outside-sangh.html
> ),
> but has never made any dent in the standard narrative.
> Most "experts" on the subject make a very loose, pamphlet-like use of
> the term Hindutva. Yet, it has a precise definition, given by the
> founder himself. A fast criterion for objectivity in reporting, and a
> fortiori in scholarship, is using the terms which the people
> themselves use for themselves, with any qualifiers being separate and
> made recognizable as such. The context in which VD Savarkar started
> the political use of this term for "Hinduness" (coined in 19th-century
> Bengal in the same sense) in 1923, was nationalism, and hence the only
> permissible extension of its meaning is as "Hindu nationalism",
> identified with the Hindu Mahasabha and the Sangh Parivar. However,
> the story of this recent "Indic" mouvance is precisely to keep a
> distance from it.
> I entirely agree that even with this "Indic" critique of "Western
> Indology", a few things are seriously deficient. But a serious
> Indologist will recognize this as one voice in an array of criticism
> of Indology per se (see e.g.
> https://www.academia.edu/14688786/The_lost_honour_of_India_Studies).
> In particular, the great interest Western India-watchers take in class
> conflict within Hindu society, certainly comes in for a suspicion of
> neo-colonialism. Exploiting inter-native conflicts was a prime
> stratagem in colonization, e.g. Hernan Cortes conquered Mexico from
> the Aztecs by allying with disgruntled other tribes. And indeed, the
> "Breaking India" forces (such as the Christian Missionaries) extol
> this conflict beyond all proportion, thus making their own project of
> conquest ("rich harvest of souls" -- Pope JP II) invisible, at least
> to naïve or wilfully blind observers.
> Indeed, "colonialism (and its epistemological violence) were carried
> out by European together with members of elite South Asian
> communities",--and, if the colonialist so chose, also with other
> agents, such as members of the Depressed Classes, e.g. Dr. Ambedkar
> serving on the Viceroy's council. The power struggle is indeed more
> complex than the native/foreign binary of the Indics, but also more
> complex than the "good subalterns plus their Western sympathizers vs.
> the ugly evil Brahmins" of the Indian Left and its Western sponsors
> (examples on request).
> Finally, I note the over-confident condemnation of the reference to
> "more than 5000 years of a continuous civilization" as an
> "anti-historical assertion". To the extent that this hints at the
> Aryan Invasion Theory, so dear to the hearts of the Breaking India
> forces, I will comply right away with the desire of most list members
> not to re-open te debate on this old saw.
> Kind regards,
> Dr. Koenraad Elst, neither Hindu nor nationalist
> _______________________________________________
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Patricia Sauthoff
Postdoctoral Fellow
Department of History and Classics
University of Alberta
Edmonton, Canada

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