To: Jessica Einhorn, Dean of the School of Advanced International Studies

†††††† Sunil Khilnani, Director of South Asia Studies, SAIS
†††††† Walter Andersen, Associate Director of South Asia Studies, SAIS
†††††† Anjali Sharan, Program Coordinator, South Asian Studies, SAIS 

cc: William Brody, President, Johns Hopkins University†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††

 

 

Dear Colleagues at the School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University,

 

We are dismayed to learn that the School of Advanced International Studies at  the Johns Hopkins University has scheduled today (September 29, 2004)an unmediated open forum for Ram Madhav, the national spokesman of the Rastriya Swayamsevak Sangh. Mr. Madhavis 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
U.S. courts have often struggled to define this line. We wish to make it clear that we are not against free speech: one canimagine contexts  where it might be productive to see the RSS debate its views. This is not, however, the program that SAIS has organized. The e-mail notice for the event describes the RSS as the "pre-eminent nationalist Hindu organization inIndia."  This is a bit like describing the Ku Klux Klan as the "premier voice of white America." 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 speakat a University campus with neither opposing viewpoints offered, nor contextual information provided in the advertisement for the talk.

Either the
School of Advanced International Studies at JHU is sadly misinformed  about what the RSS is, or it has not thought through the ramifications of offering the RSS an open platform, which will only serve to legitimize its campaigns. We strongly urge SAIS to cancel todayís lecture by Mr. Madhav, and to consider reorganizing an event  where different perspectives from the community are present, (including those who do not feel that the RSS represents "Hindus"), and the historical record about the RSS in India can be discussed by 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 Womenís 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

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

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

Gayathri Gopinath, Assistant Professor of Asian American Studies UC Davis

Paul R. Greenough, Professor of History, University of Iowa

Shubhra Gururani, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, York
University

Mary Hancock, Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of California, Santa Barbara

Hans Heinrich Hock, Professor ofLinguisitics 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

Suvir Kaul, Professor of English, University of Pennsylvania

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

Frederique Apffel-Marglin, Professor, Deparment of Anthropology, Smith College

Biju Mathew, Associate Professor of Information Systems, Rider University

Sucheta Mazumdar, Professor of History, Duke University

Christi Merrill, Assistant Professor, Comparative Literature/Asian Languages and Cultures, University of Michigan

Barbara Metcalf, Professor of History, University of California, Davis

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

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

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

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

Velcheru Narayana Rao, Professor of Languages and Cultures of Asia, University of Wisconsin, Madison

Chandan Reddy, Assistant Professor of English, University of Washington, Seattle

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

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 ofSanskrit and South Asian Studies, University of Texas-Austin

Kalpana Seshadri-Crooks, Associate Professor of English, Director of Womenís Studies, Boston College

Sahar Shafqat, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, St. Maryís College of Maryland

Nayan Shah, Associate Professor, History, University of California, San Diego

Aradhana Sharma, Assistant Professor, Departments of Anthropology and Women's Studies, Wesleyan University

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

Narendra Subramaniam, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, McGill University

Roli Verma, Regentís 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