And Isn’t It Ironic? Don’t You Think?

rsnTomorrow the last  post in my series examining the American Academy of Religion‘s recent draft statement on research responsibilities hits the web (go here to see all the posts in the series).

I became aware of the document by happening upon a Facebook post about a month ago. Continue reading

A Response to “Responsible Research Practices,” Part 6: Irrevocable Commitments

cakeandeatThis is an installment in an ongoing series on the American Academy of Religion’s recently released draft statement on research responsibilities.
An index of the
complete series (updated as each
article is posted) can be found here.

This is, at least to me, perhaps the most troubling of all the bullet points in the document, because of the way it fails to take a stand despite providing the impression of taking a very strong one.

irrevocablecommitmentAs with other portions of this document, there’s a contradiction here that’s left unaddressed. Continue reading

A Response to “Responsible Research Practices,” Part 2: Academic Freedom

wisconsinplaqueThis is an installment in an ongoing series on the American Academy of Religion’s recently released draft statement on research responsibilities.
An index of the
complete series (updated as each
article is posted) can be found here.

The first of the thirteen bullet points that comprise the main part of the draft document reads as follows:

academicfreedomShould we follow Marx, then we’d make the relatively uncontroversial prediction that every institution contains contradictions that, if unaddressed, threaten its existence as a uniform whole. And here, in the opening item, I think that we see some evidence of this — correction, we do not see it for, as will all such contradictions, it is not identified and thus there is no need to manage it. For the document is completely silent on the fact that the AAR, by design, houses a number of members who are decidedly not free to research as they see fit and thus cannot honor what the document describes as the highest ideals of intellectual inquiry.

Continue reading

Competing Representations

Nicole Goulet

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