A prominent area of #WhitePrivilege in US academia is in “South Asia Studies” and “Religion in South Asia.” This is still an area in which blatant racism and prejudice is normalized and where the academics are either White or Brown Indian sepoys firing on behalf of Whites. 1/
Unlike in other areas, in South Asian and Hinduism studies it is totally ok to deny agency to Hindus to self-represent and to target any Hindu who advocates for a positive emic portrayal of Hinduism as “Hindutva”, “extremist” “fascist” and so on.
This racism and #WhitePrivilege, with Euro-centric notions of “caste”, are enabled by terming any resistance as “savage” “militant” “Hindutva.” There is a long history of this in the West. All native cultures who resisted were dubbed savage for resisting.
Indian Left collaborators are part of normalizing racism and prejudice against Hindus in US, opposing changes to stereotypes of Hindu culture in textbooks in the US. Despite their claim to “fighting for minorities”, it didn’t deter their attacks on a Hindu minority in the US.
“South Asian” itself should be considered a racist word, akin to the “n-word.” It is a completely ahistorical and Eurocentric term. The people of India have never represented themselves as “South Asian.” This term was coined in the cold war to deny India its identity.
No one studies China as “East Asian studies.” In an Asian film festival on an academic campus in the US I saw categories for Chinese films, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese films and then “South Asian films.” All the “South Asian films” were from India, but “India” is proscribed.
In the cold war, US academia had promulgated the view that India does not have any existence per se and is a made up notion, simply consisting of a bunch of “sub-nationalities”, hence “South Asian.” This was then picked up by the Indian Left academia which parrots that line.
“South Asian” and “Hinduism studies” remains a refuge for White Supremacists of the Left and Right. They can use the fig leaf of “fighting Hindutva” to normalize blatant abuse. Start calling this out for what it is, tag the Audreys/Fairs/Donigers with it.
India must completely abjure use of the word “South Asian.” It should explicitly flag it as a racist term which denies agency to Indians and seeks to deny India. @meaindia
#WhitePrivilege and supremacy in the study of India in US academia needs to be repeatedly called out.