Patricia Sauthoff sauthoff at ualberta.ca
Fri Jun 28 20:52:55 UTC 2019

It's unfortunate that I have shared a personal but relevant experience with
this list only to be met with far right dog whistles and gaslighting. Just
like the last time I joined a discussion about something beyond simply an
ask for resources.

On Thu, Jun 27, 2019 at 9:17 PM Koenraad Elst <koenraad.elst at gmail.com>

> Dear Prof. Sauthoff & listfolk,
> Interesting: "Rather than continue this conversation with politically
> charged attacks (...) I would like to" engage in politically charged
> attacks on an unnamed "founding board member of AAIS".
> That's a very convenient kind of attack, for there is no way of
> countering this attack. Look, I don't know this man, nor the whole
> board of this AAIS, I don't know how white their souls are, and that
> is not the point. Anyone has a right to be heard, and when I see the
> names of august Indologists  like Arvind Sharma or Jefferey Long, I
> very much doubt the judgment of those who clamour for banning an AAIS
> announcement. Even if this allegation were true, it would be no worse
> than any of the times that I myself have been the target of "efforts
> to shut down academic freedom and integrity", and that consistently
> failed to make me call for censorship or a form of repression against
> them, or "deplatforming" as it is now called. There is no reason for
> banning or stonewalling this AAIS just as there never was any reason
> for me to demand anything similar against dissenters, not even the
> despotic secularists & socialists who had gone out of their way to
> smother my own voice.
> The answer to a bad conference is a better conference. In 2014, I was
> among those participants of the European Conference of South Asian
> Studies in Zürich who signed a petition for freedom of expression
> piloted by, I believe, Laurie Patton and our own Dominik Wujastyk, and
> spefically against India's pro-censorship and anti-hate-speech law IPC
> 295A, on the occasion of a censorship-oriented Hindutva (in this case
> it is correct to call it that, Dinanath Batra being an RSS man) move
> against Wendy Doniger's  'Alternative History of the Hindus' (see
> https://www.academia.edu/36329232/In_favour_of_freedom_of_expression).
> I whole-heartedly support freedom of expression, just as much for my
> adversaries as for my friends. (This attitude is rarely reciprocated,
> e.g. at that same conference, my own contribution was at the very last
> moment censored from the congress proceedings of my panel.) If you
> don't like a book, the only good answer is a better book, i.c. Vishal
> Agarwal's counter-book detailing the numerous errors in Doniger's
> unjustly famous book.
> It amused me to see how a number of people whom I had gotten to know
> for their active or passive attempts to get me banned from other
> forums, e.g. from the RISA-list (successfully, though in violation of
> the list charter); now suddenly stood up for freedom, as this time it
> was one of their own who was targeted. But it amused me even more that
> all these anti-Hindutva heroes were standing up to a law that had now
> been used by the Hindutva crowd, but that was actually (not just
> enacted in order to protect Islam from Hindu criticism, but esp.) a
> model for the "hate speech" codes that are now terrorizing academe in
> the West, and that I knew many of them were supporting. Indeed, Art.
> 295A IPC was a model hate speech law, and its British colonial
> motivation is well worth remembering when surveying the clamour
> against "hate speech" today. The Brits justified it by saying that
> unlike themselves, the natives were not mature enough to deal with
> criticism without going overboard. "Hate speech" laws are despotic by
> nature. Decolonization implies abolishing them. Call me an
> abolitionist.
> So, we have no need of being protected against this AAIS conference,
> much less against the very mention of it. It represents one viewpoint,
> and adherents of another viewpoint are welcome to express their own,
> indeed they are already doing so. And to engage with the AAIS people
> in order to make them see the supposed error of their ways. Indeed,
> knowing those Hindu diaspora circles rather well, I make bold I can
> get you, Patricia, invited to the conference and given time & the mike
> to explain to them that they are wrong. They call that the Purva
> Paksha, the counter-viewpoint, an integral part of the formation of
> their own opinion.
> .
> In fact, reading on, I notice that you have had a similar idea yourself:
> > I have invited that same board member to my talks at several
> conferences, they have not come to my talks or responded in any way.<
> OK, I take it upon myself to make communication between this AAIS
> fellow and yourself possible. You can contact me off-list on
> koenraad.elst at gmail.com. I greatly appreciate your willingness to talk
> it out, as contrasting with the SJW decision that condescending to any
> communication with "Hindutva" ogres is useless.
> > 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. (…) 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).<
> The Nalanda university was (re-) founded by a number of Leftist
> intellectuals, with as poster boy the Nobel winner Amartya Sen. Its
> selection of foreign professors was as partisan as what was to happen
> under the BJP a few years later. But in a shameless show of
> Congressite corruption, Nalanda was mismanaged so badly that it
> accepted a take-over by the State. But then the BJP came to power,....
> So you were not paid. Well, that sounds familiar. Last December, a
> number of list members including myself participated in a conference
> in Sanchi University (founded as the BJP's answer to Nalanda). We had
> been promised a reimbursement but then the BJP government was ousted
> by Congress in state elections, so we got a new Education minister, a
> new VC, and since then, no reimbursement. We have no direct
> information, but the Indian media have reported that corrupt
> Congressites had immediately started making up for the hungry years in
> the opposition. Oh, and the University Board had also okayed my on
> nomination as Visiting Professor; but that too has come to naught
> since this political change. So, I am sorry for your loss, but I also
> know from experience (and not just the incident related) that, well,
> deplatforming happens, broken promises happen, plain stealing happens,
> even regardless of ideology.
> >  I woke up to an email from a journalist asking me if I had any response
> to Ram Madhav's tweet about my course.<
> My God, we must be twin souls. Me too, I had a clash with Ram Madhav.
> After having been deplatformed many times by the Left, it was this
> Hindutva bigwig's turn to deplatform me. (He is the main addressee of
> this open letter about the incident:
> https://koenraadelst.blogspot.com/2014/12/letter-to-organizers-of-india-ideas.html
> )
> >
> > I will also note that this board member joined the Nalanda board after
> an RSS-linked administration was put into place.<
> From your info, I still can't know whom you mean. The blockhead
> behaviour  you describe certainly indicates an RSS inspiration, though
> my point remains valid: the current that prefers the term "Indic" as a
> middling term between "Indian" and "Hindu" tries to mark itself off
> against the RSS. But the RSS, like the Trotskyites of yore or the SJWs
> today, persistently pursue an entryist policy.
> But thanks anyway for your testimony. I have seen the developments in
> the Indian Council of Historical Research at close quarters, including
> the impact of the BJP's rise to power. It was, as usual, a far cry
> from what the supposed experts and India-watchers claim. Thus, Kapil
> Kapoor & Michel Danino's excellent textbook about Indian knowledge
> systems and India's contributions to the sciences, which should have
> been a favourite of all Hindu-minded people, had been launched under
> Congress but fell into disuse under the BJP. Far from packing the
> field with pro-Hindu scholars, the RSS idea of dominating an
> institution was to use this occasion (normally seized upon for
> nominating dynamic people ready to change the game) only to reward
> incompetent gerontocrats with plum sinecure posts and not change
> anything. So you say that in Nalanda they did affirm their ideology;
> maybe, but so far not higher than at Twitter level.
> > 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. 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.<
> As a habitual receiver of threats since 30 years, I certainly don't
> approve of threats. But ever since I got  scared somewhat by a
> Khalistani threat back then, I have learned that they are not truly
> scary. Cheer up, those who are serious about harming you are not the
> ones who first send a warning to you with threats. Twitter is just
> words. Nevertheless, those esteemed academics should have supported
> you, indeed. But again, it is not only in your case that they abandon
> the victims. When terrorists attacked (not just threatened but
> actually attacked) a Mo cartoon event by Pamela Geller and Robert
> Spencer in Texas, both presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and
> Donald Trump refused to sympathize without ifs or buts. After the
> Danish cartoon affair, the AAA at its subsequent annual conference
> held a panel on it, where all six panelists and the moderator just
> couldn't get it across their lips to simply support the cartoonists.
> All of them started out to this effect: "I am all for freedom of
> expression, BUT..." All of them ended up blaming the victim, though
> some avoided becoming too explicit about that. So, Patricia, join the
> club.
> >There is your clear link between AAIS and Hindutva..<
> Clear?! Well, no, I don't see any big Hindutva name on that website, I
> really wonder whom you mean. Names of moderate figures like Arvind
> Sharma or Jeffrey Long suggest something else. Then again, they have
> indeed begged for comprehension of the Hindu position once in a while,
> and for most India-watchers, that would immediately stamp them
> "Hindutva". Here, the India-watchers (and within India, the so-called
> secularists) and the RSS make common cause: they both claim that
> anyone defending anything Hindu is "an RSS man". In reality, there is
> a whole array of non-Sanghi yet pro-Hindu voices arising, and the
> "Indic" current (led by Hari Kiran Vadlamani) is one of them.
> There is a slogan nowadays: "Hindus against Hindutva". It has been
> launched by anti-Hindu forces, and with "Hindutva" is meant any
> defence of anything Hindu. They want the freedom to attack Hinduism
> left and right, and any defence against those attacks is a nuisance
> that we should be "against". But let us take them at their word: they
> have at least correctly distinguished between Hinduism and Hindutva.
> But let's see in practice how long they can keep this up. For my
> experience over the last 30 years is that the least sign of life in
> Hinduism, of not succumbing to suicidal behaviour, is at once
> demonized as "Hindutva".
> The psychology behind this, is that they like Hinduism alright, as
> long as it is only "museum Hinduism". This goes back to the Christian
> Missionaries, who mostly had a genuine sympathy for much of the
> culture they had come to destroy (by replacement with Christianity),
> e.g. by writing descriptions of these dying cultures (e.g. the Edda,
> or de Sahagun's writings on the Amerindian culture). Today, things
> like Bharat Natyam or Carnatic music are still tolerated, they give
> some colour to life. But when Hinduism resists being phased out, it
> immediately gets criminalized as "Hindutva". This very colonial
> attitude of accepting the Other only when he gives no sign of life
> anymore, is like visiting a museum where everything is passive and
> dead; but then suddenly, Tut-Ankh-Amon's mummy starts to move his arm,
> and then even to raise his voice. Oh, that is not so nice anymore,
> that is -- dare I say it? -- "Hindutva". In such a scary moment,
> people don't think rationally anymore, so all distinctions disappear,
> it all just becomes "Hindutva".
> All the best,
> Dr. Koenraad Elst
> > 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
> >>
> >> _

Patricia Sauthoff
Postdoctoral Fellow
Department of History and Classics
University of Alberta
Edmonton, Canada

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