from Scholars of Genocide, Mass Violence, and Human Rights

We, scholars of genocide, mass violence, and human rights, extend our support to the organizers of and participants in the upcoming conference “Dismantling Global Hindutva” on Sep 10-12, 2021. The scholarly conference has been co-sponsored by departments, centers, and programs at over 50 American Universities. It will bring together scholars and public intellectuals from around the world to understand the ramifications of the political philosophy of Hindutva in India and elsewhere. The Hindutva ideology or Hindu Nationalism is based on the concept of establishing a pure Hindu state, a Hindu Rashtra, in India through the exclusion of its Muslim and Christian minorities. Extensive scholarship has shown that it is rooted in fascism with its founders explicitly referencing German fascism as an inspiration

There is now a concerted and coordinated effort against the conference by Hindutva aligned groups both in India and the US. Co-sponsoring Universities and Departments have been barraged by thousands of emails asking for them to withdraw from the conference. There has also been extensive and virulent trolling on social media.

Most dangerously, these efforts are trying to portray the conference as an attack on the Hindu religion. The conference organizers have repeatedly clarified on the conference website and all conference materials that Hindutva, the political philosophy of Hindu majoritarianism, is distinct from the religious practices of Hinduism. There is also an attempt to claim that the conference engages in “Hinduphobia.” As the Hindus for Human Rights organization here in the U.S. has clarified “the term has long been weaponized by Hindutva nationalists to deflect their own phobias against Muslims and Christians.” The South Asian Scholar Activist Collective has also described the term as a distraction “in the west to silence critiques of casteism, Islamophobia, sexism, anti-Semitism, racism, and other forms of supremacist ideologies at the heart of Hindutva.”

This pushback is not unexpected. In India, the rise in power of Hindutva-aligned groups has led to a crackdown on all forms of democratic dissent and the intimidation and imprisonment of academics, journalists, human rights groups and activists. This overall erosion of democratic practices and freedoms in India has been noted by global research networks and the global media. Several well-known academics figures in India have recently had to leave the country after being specifically targeted for raising their voices against this crackdown on dissent. In the U.S., scholars of South Asia have also been the targets of concerted attacks. The South Asian Scholar Activist Collective has now described the harassment patterns of Hindutva aligned groups in their field manual.

The organized efforts to shut down this conference represent a serious challenge to academic freedom in the U.S. that will have implications beyond the scholarship of South Asia. We therefore stand firmly in support of the organizers of the Dismantling Global Hindutva conference.

 

Signed By:

Mohamed Adhikari

Emeritus Associate Professor

History Department, University of CapeTown

Avner Ben-Amos

Tel Aviv University

Anne Berg

Assistant Professor of History

University of Pennsylvania

Donald Bloxham

Richard Pares Professor of History

University of Edinburgh

Haim Bresheeth

Professorial Research Associate

SOAS University of London

Daniele Conversi

Professor, Departamento de Historia Contemporánea

University of the Basque Country

Anita H. Fábos

Professor

Clark University

David Featherstone

Reader in Human Geography

University of Glasgow

Snait Gissis

Tel Aviv University

Amos Goldberg

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Marianne Hirschberg

Professor, Faculty of Human Sciences

University of Kassel, Germany

Adam Jones

Professor, Political Science

University of British Columbia, Okanagan, Kelowna, BC, Canada

Ben Kiernan

A. Whitney Griswold Professor of History

Yale University

Brett Ashley Kaplan

Director of Initiative in Holocaust, Genocide, Memory Studies

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Adam Knowles

Department of English and Philosophy

Drexel University

Mark Levene

Emeritus Fellow

University of Southampton

Rhys Machold

Lecturer in International Relations, School of Social and Political Sciences

University of Glasgow

A. Dirk Moses

Frank Porter Graham Distinguished Professor of Global Human Rights History,

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill;

Senior Editor, Journal of Genocide Research

John K. Roth

Edward J. Sexton Professor Emeritus of Philosophy

Claremont McKenna College

Michael Rothberg

1939 Society Samuel Goetz Chair in Holocaust Studies

University of California, Los Angeles

Victoria Sanford

Professor of Anthropology, Lehman College

Doctoral Faculty, the Graduate Center, City University of New York

Raz Segal

Associate Professor of Holocaust and Genocide Studies

Stockton University

Damien Short

Professor of Human Rights and Environmental JusticeCo-Director, Human Rights Consortium

School of Advanced Study, University of London

Editor in ChiefInternational Journal of Human Rights

Henry Theriault

Worcester State University

Genocide Studies International

Johanna Ray Vollhardt

Associate Professor, Psychology

Clark University

Noga Wolff

Faculty of Education

College of Management Academic Studies, Rishon LeZion, Israel

Ran Zwigenberg

Associate Professor of Asian Studies, History, and Jewish Studies

Pennsylvania State University

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