T. Nicole Goulet is a Sessional Instructor at the University of Manitoba and Brandon University. Having completed her Ph.D. at the University of Manitoba on textual representations of Sarada Devi, Dr. Goulet continues her research on the intersection of colonial politics and religious practice in India, with special reference to gender. After an online conversation about the recent Doniger/Penguin affair it was evident that she had something new to say about this episode and so we invited this post.
In the past few weeks, various groups, including scholars, media outlets, and members of the population at large, have weighed in on the Wendy Doniger/Penguin Publications case. For those not in the know, Doniger’s almost 800 page tome, The Hindus, An Alternative History, will no longer be published by Penguin Books India nor sold in Indian book stores. This after a four year legal battle with the Hindu nationalist group Shiksha Bachao Andolan Samiti (Save Education Movement) spear-headed by Dinanath Batra, ended with the capitulation by Penguin Books before any court ruling was made. Media coverage has tended to focus on the issue of freedom of speech in India, and the state of the publishing industry and liberal scholarship in general. Some Penguin authors currently published in India have requested their contracts be voided and their own publications pulped in similar fashion to The Hindus as protest. And on February 17th, the University of Chicago Divinity School sent a letter to the New York Times, signed by 43 various and unnamed scholars, as a defence of Doniger’s right to “freedom of scholarship and expression.” Continue reading