SV: SV: Rajaram's bull

Lars Martin Fosse lmfosse at ONLINE.NO
Sat Aug 5 08:13:25 EDT 2000


Subrahmanya S. [SMTP:subrahmanyas at HOTMAIL.COM] skrev 4. august 2000 18:28:
> Lars, You writing is most humorous.

Dear Subrahmanya,

congratulations on your sense of humour! Humour is always an attractive
feature of somebody's personality, but I am not entirely convinced that you
sense of humour is a good one!

> You are in effect stating that Western Indologists are the
> only people who can scientifically study India !

Have I now? I am not so sure. I have read quite a lot of Indological
material written by Indians, most of it quite excellent. I have never
questioned, say, Romila Thapar's ability to write on Indian history. The
people we are discussing here are not identical with the "Indians" in toto
(or for that matter, the "Muslims" or any other broad cathegory in the
East.)

> It is funny how Western Indologists get all upset when
> they are told that their thinking is the same as that of the
> old colonial and missionary types. But calling any Indian
> who questions the AIT/AMT as being politically motivated
> is scholarship eh ?

I am quite convinced that you haven't read much modern Indology, otherwise
you would not have written this kind of nonsense. I did not mention The
Unmentionable Theory (also known as TUT) specifically. The Hindutva
rewriting of history also deals with other periods of Indian history (a
famous case being the history of a certain temple/mosque in Ayodhya), and I
am not entirely convinced that Edward Said would have condoned that sort of
writing. I don't think that he is right-wing. Attacking colonialist
attitudes among Westerners does not imply that you would accept an obvious
instrumentalisation of history with concomitant documentary manipulation.
This is not a critical revision of history, it is just partisan history
writing.

> I am not sure, if you have even understood the kinds of
> objections that have been raised against the AIT/AMT,
> that you are so willing to dismiss it.

I have read enough about the subject to be able to say that I understand it
and reject it.

> Needless to say, Just like the 19th century indologists
> you are are ready to call any Indian objections
> as being rooted in faith or religion.
> Any Indian who accepts your theories is scientific, and
> he who doesnt is not scientific !

Really? I have no problem accepting that Indians have different views on
Indian history as long as their views are based on normal academic
procedure. Which in the writings of India's blossoming national romanticism
is not the case. Here Hoodbhoy's words on "Islamic science" apply: there is
no "Islamic science", there is only science, and by the same token: there
is no "Hindutva scholarship", there is only scholarship. To put it
differently: what is presented as Hindutva scholarship, is mostly only
Hindutva, not scholarship. I would like to add, however, that we have had
perfectly similar phenomena here in the West - the 19th century and the
first half of the 20th was full of them. Some places still are. That is why
we are able to use the "duck test" on Hindutva revisionism: if it walks
like nationalism and talks like nationalism, it's nationalism.

> This kind of attitude is standard Orientalism.

Is it now? Why is it then that so many worried Indian academics furiously
protest against Hindutva scholarship? Are they all orientalists? All
brainwashed by malevolent pinkies?

> Is it possible at all that a lesser person like me could also
> be scientific ?

I haven't the faintest idea, since I don't know what you do. If you're in
engineering or some branch of science, you are probably impeccably
scientific in your chosen field. That does not necessarily mean that you
are "scientific" in fields where you lack the relevant training.

> Quote by Said
> from http://www.emory.edu/ENGLISH/Bahri/Orientalism.html
>
> "One would find this kind of procedure less objectionable as
> political propaganda--which is what it is, of course--were it
> not accompanied by sermons on the objectivity, the fairness,
> the impartiality of a real historian, the implication always
> being that Muslims and Arabs cannot be objective but that
> Orientalists. . .writing about Muslims are, by definition, by
> training, by the mere fact of their Westernness. This
> is the culmination of Orientalism as a dogma that not only degrades
> its subject matter but also blinds its practitioners."

I am afraid you are abusing Said. Muslim and Arabs, like anybody else, can
of course be objective. I never claimed otherwise. If you look at my email
once more, you will see that I was referring to a particular group of
Muslims and Hindus (what we loosely might term the "fundamentalist" ones).
And in these circles, scientific objectivity and methodical soundness is
scarce. On this matter, Hoodbhoy is perfectly and damningly clear. But then
he may of course be a brainwashed agent of Western imperialism. You never
know about these particle physicists and mathematicians - Hoodbhoy is both
- there are so many strange people among them :-).

Best regards,

Lars Martin

Dr. art. Lars Martin Fosse
Haugerudvn. 76, Leil. 114,
0674 Oslo
Norway
Phone: +47 22 32 12 19
Fax 1:  +47 22 32 12 19
Fax 2:  +47 85 02 12 50 (InFax)
Email: lmfosse at online.no



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