[INDOLOGY] Petition to save South Asian Studies (and other subjects at Halle University
antonia.ruppel at gmail.com
Mon Mar 14 16:05:04 UTC 2022
A number of you signed a petition last year that aimed at preserving
various 'Kleine Faecher' ('Small Subjects', an official designation),
including South Asian Studies, at Halle University. The international
attention meant none of those chairs or institutes have so far been cut,
but unfortunately there are new plans in the works that might change this.
Would you please consider signing this new petition as well?
If you have any questions, please simply get in touch with me. (I've added
an English translation of the petition below. For practical reasons, it's
DeepL with some minor edits by me, so do please apologise that it is at
times not the most elegant!)
All best from sunny Munich,
At Martin Luther University (MLU), there is a threat of an eradication of
the Small Subjects - subjects that not only have a long tradition at our
university, but also contribute to the national and international
reputation of the MLU in the fields of Ancient Languages (Greek Studies),
Archaeology (Oriental Archaeology) and Non-European Studies (South Asian
Studies, Indology and Japanese Studies) or Small European Cultures (South
Slavic Studies), as well as being particularly successful in the
acquisition of third-party funding and the promotion of young academics.
Subject diversity has always been a hallmark of MLU, which has also made
the university attractive for academics and students. In 2013, the German
Science Council also strongly recommended that MLU make the Small Subjects
more visible in its profile.
The current austerity dictate - under the euphemism of ‘Profilschärfung’/
‘profile enhancement’ - affects the Small Subjects in a special way,
because with the reduction of chairs, these subjects, which are only
represented by one person anyway, are completely on the brink of
extinction. This means that entire subject cultures are disappearing in
Saxony-Anhalt, because subjects are being cut that, across the whole of
Central Germany, are only represented at MLU.
In addition, the target agreement signed by the MLU Rectorate and the
Minister of Science in 2020, the basis for the future structural
development of the university, specifies as part of the teaching profile,
among others: Greek, South Asian Studies, Japanese Studies, Archaeology and
Slavic Studies. The current plans for cuts contradict the content of this
agreement. This petition is directed against that. MLU is putting one of
its brand cores at risk here, but it is threatening to lose far more than
just the damage to its image: in times of globalisation, expertise in
different regions of the world is a decisive location factor, for example
in economically strong or strongly growing economies such as East or South
Asia. In the South Slavic region, there are currently candidates for
accession to the EU. But even beyond economic factors, political, cultural,
religious and social problems are increasingly seen in and shaped by a
global discourse that cannot be solved by the Western perspective alone. In
order to understand these processes, to analyse them and to process them
for the areas involved, regional scientific expertise in various fields is
required in addition to sound language skills.
To successfully shape the future, it is always necessary to take a critical
look at history, a history that does not only look at Europe, but at all
regions of the world, and not only at modernity and the present, but is
open to long periods of time. How much is to be learned from linguistic as
well as material evidence, especially from regions that show the beginnings
of globalised societies thousands of years ago, how much can we learn from
their experiences and knowledge. In this respect, both the ancient
languages and cultures of classical antiquity and Near Eastern archaeology,
which deals with Mesopotamia as the "cradle of culture" and the junction
between Orient and Occident, are indispensable.
The petition for the preservation of these subjects is therefore not only
about the discussion of content at the university itself, but rather about
having excellently trained graduates in these fields in the future who can
contribute their expertise to the economy, politics, culture and
administration in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany and the EU.
We call on the rectorate of the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg
to stop the massive cutback plans, to present the financial situation
transparently and, building on this, to work together with the faculties
and institutes on the further profiling of the MLU in the university
We call on the state government of Saxony-Anhalt to ensure stable basic
funding for all universities in the state and to preserve MLU for what it
is: a traditional alma mater with a future and the only comprehensive
university in the state.
We appeal to the senators of the Martin Luther University to support not
only the unity of research and teaching, but also the preservation of Small
Subjects and the associated diversity at our university, and thus for a
strong partner in the university network.
If you care about the future of MLU, the breadth of university education
for future generations of students and researchers, and Central Germany as
a strong research location that is also crucial for the social, economic
and societal development of the region, then show your solidarity with us.
Sign the petition and stand up for the continuation of the diversity of
subjects at MLU with your signature and in the comments section.
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