Date: Fri, 01 Oct 2004 10:05:37 -0500
From: Kamala  Visweswaran <>
Subject: Faculty Letter of Protest to RSS Speaker at Penn

                                                                                                                                    October 1, 2004
To: Francine Frankel, Director
       Center for the Advanced Study of India
Cc: Samuel Preston, Dean of SAS
       Rebecca Bushnell, Dean of the College
       Amy Gutman, President of University of Pennsylvania
Dear Professor Frankel and Colleagues at the Center for the Advanced Study of India at the University of Pennsylvania,
We are alarmed to know that the Center for the Advanced Study of India (CASI) at the University of Pennsylvania has scheduled a lecture by Ram Madhav, the national spokesman of the Rastriya Swayamsevak Sangh for October 4, 2004. Mr. Madhav  is a full-time RSS worker since 1982, and editor of the RSS weekly, The Organizer. The publication is well known for consolidating an aggressive, exclusivist Hindu nationalism that thrives by promoting enmity and direct violence toward Muslim and Christian minorities. As you may know, The RSS has been responsible since its inception in 1925 for propagating a politics of hate and violence against non-Hindu minorities and for its agenda of racist Hindu supremacism. M.S. Golwalkar, one of the ideologues of the RSS, explicitly endorsed Hitler's  campaign against the Jews in
Germany, calling it a form of "race pride" India should emulate. An RSS member assassinated Gandhi on January 30, 1948, and the organization has been banned in India more than once for its incendiary activity.

The line between hate speech and free speech can be blurred, and
courts have often struggled to define this line. We wish to make it clear that we are not against free speech: one can imagine contexts where it might be productive to see the RSS debate its views. This is not, however, the program that CASI has organized. The e-mail notice for the event describes Madhav in a sanitized way as representing “a younger generation of RSS pracharak (functionary) and a new face of an organization.”   This is a bit like describing the David Duke as the new face of the Ku Klux Klan.  Just as we would find it unseemly to host a KKK representative on campus on such a pretext, so too, is it unseemly to invite the spokesman of the RSS to speak at a University campus without opposing viewpoints offered on the same platform.
Most of us who have signed this letter are connected with the reaching and research of
South Asia in some form or other. We can therefore appreciate the need for more research about the RSS and understand that the event you have organized at Penn is small, and intended for faculty specialists. However, we do not feel the event you have organized is the best way to address that need.

 Either CASI has chosen to overlook the historical record of the RSS, or it has not thought through the ramifications of offering an official RSS representative an open invitation to a
U.S. university, which will only put a U.S. stamp of approval on its campaigns. Mr. Madhav's U.S. tour has already included the cities of Houston, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Nashville, and his visits to prestigious universities with South Asia programs like Penn and John Hopkins significantly gild his resume. Without an opportunity to publicly challenge the RSS’s assertions in its attempt sanitize its history, and to create a respectable market image, U.S. universities will unwittingly become the legitimators of the hatred and violence the RSS wreaks in India.  We are only two years past the massive violence and destruction leveled at the Muslim community by the RSS and Vishwa Hindu Parishad  in Gujarat. Despite massive eyewitness testimony, the vast majority of perpetrators were never tried. Let us not forget that Narendra Modi, the Chief Minister of Gujarat who sanctioned the violence, is an RSS pracharak who has  also been called the “new face” of the RSS. Let us not forget that two other RSS pracharaks, former Deputy Prime Minister Lal Advani, and former Prime Minister Atul Bihari Vajpayee, ensured that Narendra Modi’s government was never held accountable for its role in organizing and condoning the violence. 

For these reasons, we strongly urge CASI to cancel the lecture by Mr. Madhav next week, and to consider reorganizing an event where the RSS viewpoint can be counterbalanced by different perspectives from the community, including those who contest the idea that “Hindutva” has any meaningful relationship to “Hinduness” or Hinduism, and where the historical record about the RSS in India can be discussed by journalists and scholars who have studied the organization.

Yours Sincerely,

Kamala Visweswaran, Associate Professor of Anthropology and South Asian Studies, University of Texas, Austin
Laura M. Ahearn, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology
Director, South Asian Studies Program, Rutgers University
Sanjam Ahluwalia, Assistant Professor, Dept of History and Program in Women's Studies, Northern Arizona University
Arjun Appadurai, Provost and John Dewey Professor in the Social
Sciences, New School University
Kamran Asdar Ali, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, University of Texas-Austin
Lisa Armstrong, Assistant Professor of Women’s Studies, Smith College
Anjali Arondekar, Assistant Professor of Women's Studies, University of California, Santa Cruz
Catherine Asher, Professor, Department of Art History, University of Minnesota
Fredrick Asher, Chair, Department of Art History, University of Minnesota, and Chair, American Institute of Indian Studies Board of Trustees
Kiran Asher, Asst Professor of International Development and Women's Studies
Clark University
Brian Axel, Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Swarthmore College
Paola Bacchetta, Associate Professor of Women's Studies, University of California-Berkeley
Swami Badrinath, Professor of Economics, San Diego State University
Kim Berry, Associate Professor and Program Leader, Women's Studies Program
Humboldt State University
Manu Bhagavan, Assistant Professor, Hunter College-CUNY
Radhika Balakrishnan, Professor of Economics, Marymount Manhattan
Srimati Basu, Associate Professor of Anthropology, DePauw University
Purnima Bose, Associate Professor of English, University of Indiana, Bloomington
Carol Breckenridge, Associate Professor of History, Graduate Faculty,
New School University
Antoinette Burton, Professor of History, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Paula Chakravartty, Assistant Professor, Department of Communication
University of Massachussetts, Amherst
Sharad Chari, Lecturer in Geography, London School of Economics, and Research Fellow in Development Studies, University of KwaZulu-Natal
Indrani Chatterjee, Associate Professor of History, Rutgers University
Piya Chatterjee, Associate Professor, Department of Women's Studies, UC-Riverside
Angana Chatterji, Associate Professor of Anthropology, CIIS
Vasudha Dalmia, Professor of South Asian Studies, UC Berkeley
Samir Dayal, Associate Professor of English, Bentley College
Manali Desai, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Reading
Shelley Feldman, Professor of Sociology, Cornell University
Geraldine Forbes, Professor of History, State University of New York Oswego
Keya Ganguly, Associate Professor, Cultural Studies & Comparative Literature, University of Minnesota
Rosemary Marangoly George, Associate Professor of Literature, UCSD 
Bishnupriya Ghosh, Associate Professor of English, UC Davis
Gautam Ghosh, Assistant Professor Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania
Gayathri Gopinath, Assistant Professor of Asian American Studies UC Davis
Stewart Gordon, Visiting Professor, Center for South Asian studies, University of
Manu Goswami, Department of History and East Asian Studies Program
New York University
Paul R. Greenough, Professor of History, University of Iowa
Inderpal Grewal, Professor and Director of Women’s Studies, UC Irvine
Shubhra Gururani, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, York
Mary Hancock, Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of California, Santa Barbara
Patrick Heller, Professor of Sociology, Brown University
Hans Heinrich Hock, Professor of  Linguisitics and Sanskrit, University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign
Syed Akbar Hyder, Assistant Professor of South Asian Studies, University of
Texas, Austin
Sanjay Joshi, Associate Professor of History, Northern Arizona University
Sangeeta Kamat, Associate Professor, School of Education, University of Massachussetts, Amherst
Sampath Kannan, Professor, Department  of Computer and Information Science, University of Pennsylvania
Shuchi Kapila Assistant Professor of English, Grinnell College
Shruti Kapila, Assistant Professor of History, Tufts University
John Kelly, Professor, Department of Anthropology & Deputy Dean, Division of the Social Sciences, University of Chicago
Satish Kolluri, Assistant Professor, Department of Communication Studies, Pace University
Jayati Lal, Assistant Professor of Sociology and Women's Studies, University of Michigan
Ruby Lal, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, The Johns Hopkins University
Vinay Lal, Associate Professor, Department of History, UCLA
Smita Lahiri, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Harvard University
Sarah Lamb, Associate Professor of Anthropology & Director of Graduate
Studies, Women's Studies, Brandeis University
Robin Lewis, Associate Dean, Columbia University, School of International and
Public Affairs
Ritty Lukose, Assistant Professor, Graduate School of Education, University of
Frederique Apffel-Marglin, Professor, Deparment of Anthropology, Smith College
Steven Marrone, Professor of History, Tufts University
Biju Mathew, Associate Professor of Information Systems, Rider University
David Hall Matthews, Lecturer, Deparment of History, Leeds University, U.K.
McKim Marriot, Professor Emeritus, Anthropology and South Asian Languages and Cultures, University of Chicago
Sucheta Mazumdar, Professor of History, Duke University
Christi Merrill, Assistant Professor, Comparative Literature/Asian Languages and Cultures, University of Michigan
Ali Mir, Associate Professor of Management, College of Business William Paterson University
Raza Mir, Associate Professor of Management, College of Business William Paterson University
Chandra Talpade Mohanty, Professor of Women's Studies and Dean's Professor of the Humanities, Syracuse University
Padmini Mongia, Professor of English, Franklin & Marshall College
Radhika Mongia, Assistant Professor of Women's Studies, University of California
Santa Cruz
Richa Nagar, Associate Professor of Women's Studies, University of Minnesota
Vijaya Nagarajan, Associate Professor, Department of Theology and Religious Studies and Department of Environmental Studies University of San Francisco
Savita Nair, Assistant Professor of South Asian History, Furman College
Balmurli Natrajan, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Iowa State University
Anuradha Dingwaney Needham, Professor of English, Oberlin College
Patrick Olivelle, Professor of Sanskrit and South Asian Studies, University of Texas-Austin
Veena Talwar Oldenburg, Professor of History, Baruch College and The Graduate
Center, City University of New York
Rupal Oza, Assistant Professor of Geography, Hunter College, CUNY
Gyan Pandey, Professor of Anthropology, Johns Hopkins University
Geeta Patel, Associate Professor of  Women’s Studies, Wellesley College
Fred Pfeil, Professor, English and American Studies, Trinity College
Kavita Philip Associate Professor, Women's Studies Program, UC Irvine
Sheldon Pollock, George V. Bobrinskoy Professor of Sanskrit and Indic Studies,
University of Chicago
Steven M. Poulos, Director, South Asia Language Resource Center, University of Chicago
Baba Prasad, Assistant Professor of E-Business and MIS, University of North Carolina-Charlotte
Leela Prasad, Assistant Professor of Ethics & Indian Religions, Duke University
Vijay Prashad, Associate Professor of International Studies, Trinity College
Gautam Premnath, Assistant Professor of English, University of California, Berkeley
Jyoti Puri, Associate Professor, Sociology, Simmons College
Gloria Raheja, Professor of Anthropology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
Ravi Rajan, Associate Professor, Environmental Studies, UC Santa Cruz
 Kasturi Ray, Assistant Professor, Global Studies, Sarah Lawrence College
Aneil Rallin, Assistant Professor of English and the Center for Academic Writing, York University
Priti Ramamurthy, Associate Professor of Women's Studies, University of Washington, Seattle
Velcheru Narayana Rao, Professor of Languages and Cultures of Asia, University of Wisconsin, Madison
Chandan Reddy, Assistant Professor of English, University of Washington, Seattle
Marcus Rediker, Professor of History, Pittsburgh University
Anindyo Roy, Associate Professor of English, Colby College
Modhumita Roy, Associate Professor of English and Director of Women's Studies,
Tufts University
Parama Roy, Associate Professor of English, UC Riverside
Srirupa Roy, Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of Massachussetts, Amherst
Bhaskar Sarkar, Assistant Professor of Film Studies, UC Santa Barbara
Mahua Sarkar, Assistant Professor of History, SUNY-Binghampton
Sabina Sawhney, Associate Professsor, English, Hofstra University
Simona Sawhney, Assistant Professor, South Asian Literature, University of Minnesota
Malini Johar Schueller, Professor of English, University of Florida
Martha Selby, Associate Professor of  Sanskrit and South Asian Studies, University of Texas-Austin
Kalpana Seshadri-Crooks, Associate Professor of English, Director of Women’s Studies, Boston College
Sahar Shafqat, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, St. Mary’s College of Maryland
Nayan Shah, Associate Professor, History, University of California, San Diego
Richard Shapiro, Director, Social and Cultural Anthropology Program
California Institute of Integral Studies
Aradhana Sharma, Assistant Professor, Departments of Anthropology and Women's Studies, Wesleyan University
Christina Sharpe, Assistant Professor of English, Tufts University
Jenny Sharpe, Professor of English and Comparative Literature, UCLA
Zoe Sherinian, Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology, School of Music, University of Oklahoma
Amritjit Singh, Professor of English and African American Studies, Rhode Island College
Nikhil Pal Singh Associate Professor, Department of History University of Washington
Mrinalini Sinha, Associate Professor of History and Women's Studies, Penn State University
Rajini Srikanth, Associate Professor English, University of Massachusetts, Boston
Nidhi Srinivas, Assistant Professor of Nonprofit Management,  Milano School of Management and Urban Policy, New School University
Rachel Sturman, Assistant Professor of History and Asian Studies, Bowdoin College
Ajantha Subramanian, Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Social Studies,
Harvard University
Narendra Subramanian, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, McGill University
Abha Sur, Lecturer, Department of Women's Studies, MIT
Mriganko Sur, Professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, MIT
Jyotsna Uppal, Assistant Professor of History, Queens College, CUNY
Roli Verma, Regent’s Lecturer, Associate Professor, School of Public Administration, University of New Mexico
David Gordon White, Professor and Chair, Department of Religious Studies,
University of California, Santa Barbara