Academics Worldwide Against the Vilification of Nivedita Menon

[Expressions of support from scholars wanting to sign on are continuing to pour in. We will therefore be continuously adding the names as they come in and keep updating the statement. – AN] 


We, the undersigned, wish to express our shock and indignation at the vicious right wing media campaign conducted over the past few days against well-known feminist scholar and Jawaharlal Nehru University professor Nivedita Menon. This media campaign mischievously decontextualizes her lecture at the public teach-in programme in JNU with the use of selective clips and inflammatory commentary. The television channel Zee has led the main campaign by branding Professor Menon as ‘anti-national’ and instigating viewers to take action. Such branding is tantamount to a television channel acting as both judge and jury, and directly placing an individual’s rights and safety under threat.

The use of television media to attack intellectuals and instigate vigilante action is a feature of authoritarian regimes worldwide.  Similar tendencies are visible in recent months in India. Singling out individuals and creating a mass-frenzy against them by using the medium of TV is a dangerous trend that directly incites and encourages violence. This is a deep disregard for any process of law. We saw Zee TV do this earlier when doctored videos became the basis of arrest and harassment of JNU students. In this case, Twitter and social media campaigns have followed attacks on Professor Menon, demanding the framing of sedition charges against her and wielding open threats of rape. Most disturbingly, there are media reports of police complaints filed by interested parties demanding ‘action’ against Professor Menon.

Professor Menon is a renowned scholar and feminist thinker; her texts are used in university syllabi worldwide. As a prominent scholar and activist she has intervened in academic and public debates for decades. Professor Menon has also been known as an inspiring teacher for thirty years, guiding generations of students who now work in India and abroad. She has never shied away from intellectual debate in academic and public forums, passionately intervening in debates on feminism and social theory. This is the first time that her own freedom to articulate her ideas has been so viciously attacked in an orchestrated media campaign.

The freedom to articulate ideas is the basis of a university. When opinions voiced in a public lecture by an academic are made part of a selective media campaign that seeks not to debate but simply to malign, both democracy and the university are under threat. What is under question are not just Professor Menon’s ideas but also the very freedom for academics and citizens. We condemn this media campaign and associated threats, urging all academics and intellectuals to stand with Professor Menon at this time.

We call on the Vice Chancellor of JNU to swiftly defend Professor Menon from such attacks and protect the sanctity of university debate. We urge the JNU administration to stand by its faculty’s right to hold individual opinions and condemn all efforts to diminish this. We call on the university to immediately ensure that freedoms that form its very academic basis are not eroded in this moment. We call further for every censure and action against the unlawful actions of the television channels in question. Finally, we urge all well wishers of a democratic India to stand by Professor Menon for their own freedoms, and not just hers.

  1. Gananath Obeyesekere, Professor of Anthropology, Emeritus, Princeton University
  2. Partha Chatterjee, Professor of Anthropology, Columbia University
  3. Mahmood Mamdani, Professor of Government and International Affairs, Columbia University
  4. Gopal Guru, Professor, Centre for Political Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University
  5. Sumit Sarkar, former Professor of History, University of Delhi
  6. Tanika Sarkar, Professor of History, Jawaharlal Nehru University
  7. Sudhir Chandra, historian based in Delhi
  8. Nayanjot Lahiri, Professor of History, Ashoka University.
  9. Mrinalini Sinha, Professor, University of Michigan
  10. Timothy Mitchell, Professor of Middle Eastern, South Asian and African Studies, Columbia University
  11. Dipesh Chakrabarty, Professor of History, University of Chicago, USA
  12. Gyan Prakash, Professor of History, Princeton University
  13. Sanjay Subrahmanyam, Professor of History, UCLA
  14. Homi Bhabha, Professor of English and Director, Mahindra Humanities Center, Harvard University
  15. Rosalind C. Morris, Professor of Anthropology, Columbia University
  16. David Hardiman, Emeritus Professor of History, University of Warwick
  17. Akeel Bilgrami, Professor of Philosophy, Columbia University
  18. Veena Das, Professor of Anthropology, Johns Hopkins University
  19. Ania Loomba, Professor of English, University of Pennsylvania
  20. Michael Taussig, Professor of Anthropology, Columbia University, New York
  21. Sundar Sarukkai, Professor of Philosophy, Manipal University
  22. Pradeep Jeganathan, Professor of Sociology, SNU
  23. Kavita Panjabi, Professor, Jadavpur University, Kolkata
  24. Isabel Hofmeyr, Professor of African Languages and Literature, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
  25. Shireen Hassim, Professor of Political Science, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
  26. Srila Roy, Professor of Sociology, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
  27. Kelly Gillespie, Professor of Anthropology, Witwatersrand University, Johannesburg, South Africa
  28. Ivor Chipkin, Director Public Affairs Research Institute, Johannesburg
  29. Premesh Lalu, Professor, Director, DST/NRF Flagship on Critical Thought in African Humanities, University of the Western Cape
  30. Lila Abu-Lughod, Professor, Columbia University
  31. Sheldon Pollock, Professor of Sanskrit and South Asian Studies,Columbia University, New York
  32. Hamid Dabashi, Professor, Columbia University, New York
  33. Firdous Azim, Department of English and Humanities, BRAC University, Dhaka, Bangladesh
  34. Kama Maclean, Associate Professor, South Asian and World History, School of Humanities and Languages, UNSW Australia
  35. José Emilio Burucúa, Fellow member of the Institut d’Études Avancées, Nantes, France
  36. Danai Mupotsa, Lecturer, African Literature, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg
  37. Vashna Jagarnath, Senior Lecturer, History Department, Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa
  38. Thiven Reddy, Department of Political Studies, University of Cape Town
  39. Ruchi Chaturvedi, Lecturer, Department of Sociology, University of Cape Town, South Africa
  40. Patrick Olivelle, Professor, University of Texas at Austin, USA
  41. Sambuddha Sen, Professor, Shiv Nadar University
  42. Hina Saiyada, Filmmaker, Mumbai
  43. Asanda Benya, University of Cape Town, Dept of Sociology, South Africa
  44. Ravindran Sriramachandran, Dept. of Anthropology/ Sociology, Ashoka University
  45. Koni Benson, University of Cape Town
  46. Vedita Cowaloosur, Postdoc Fellow at Stellenbosch University, South Africa
  47. Enocent Msindo, Associate Professor of History, Rhodes University Grahamstown, South Africa
  48. Naledi Nomalanga Mkhize, Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa
  49. Shari Daya, University of Cape Town, South Africa
  50. Heidi Grunebaum, Centre for Humanities Research, University of the Western Cape, South Africa.
  51. Francis Cody, Associate Professor Anthropology and Asian Institute, University of Toronto
  52. Jinee Lokaneeta, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science and International Relations, Drew University, United States of America
  53. Tamara Shefer, Professor, Women’s and Gender Studies, Faculty of Arts, University of the Western Cape, South Africa
  54. Richard Pithouse, Professor, Rhodes University, South Africa
  55. Ayesha Kidwai, Centre for Linguistics, Jawaharlal Nehru University,
  56. Mary John, Professor, Centre for Women’s Development Studies, Delhi
  57. Ravi S Vasudevan, Professor, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi
  58. Rochelle Pinto, Academic based in Delhi
  59. Tarangini Sriraman, Visiting Fellow, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi
  60. Vipin Kumar, Postdoctoral Fellow, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi
  61. Parthasarathi Muthukaruppan, English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad
  62. Lawrence Liang, Alternative Law Forum, Bangalore
  63. Ujjwal Kumar Singh, Professor, Dept of Political Science, University of Delhi
  64. Awadhendra Sharan, Associate Professor, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi
  65. Ravikant, Assistant Professor, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi
  66. Udaya Kumar, Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University
  67. Rita Kothari, Professor, IIT Gandhinagar
  68. Rakesh Pandey, Assistant Professor, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi
  69. Shilpa Phadke, Assistant Professor, Centre for Media and Cultural Studies, TISS, Mumbai
  70. Sunalini Kumar, Visiting Fellow, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi
  71. Priyadarshini Vijaisri, Associate Professor, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi
  72. Shail Mayaram, Professor, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi
  73. Satish Deshpande, Professor, Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi
  74. Aarti Sethi, Doctoral Researcher, Columbia University, New York
  75. Abhay Kumar Dubey, Director, Indian Languages Programme, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi
  76. Manoranjan Mohanty, Distinguished Professor, Council for Social Development, Delhi
  77. Yengkhom Jilangamba, Academic based in Delhi
  78. Anupama Roy, Professor, Centre for Political Studies, JNU, Delhi
  79. Janaki Nair, Professor, Centre for Historical Studies, JNU, Delhi
  80. Rukun Advani, Publisher, Permanent Black, Ranikhet
  81. Anuradha Roy, Publisher, Permanent Black, Ranikhet
  82. Lyla Mehta, Professor, Institute of Development Studies, UK
  83. Michael Neocosmos, Professor and Director UHURU, Rhodes University, South Africa
  84. Dhammamegha Annie Leatt, Research Associate, Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research Wits University, Johannesburg
  85. Tarun Bhartiya, Filmmaker, Member Thma U Rangli Juki(TUR), Meghalaya
  86. Rasigan Maharajh, Chief Director, Institute for Economic Research on Innovation, Tshwane University of Technology, South Africa
  87. Polo Moji, Lecturer, French and Francophone Studies, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg
  88. Mathe Ntsekhe, National University of Lesotho
  89. Shohini Ghosh, Professor, AJK MCRC, Jamia Millia Islamia
  90. Sabeena Gadihoke, Associate Professor, AJK MCRC, Jamia Millia Islamia
  91. Sabina Kidwai. Associate Professor,AJK MCRC, Jamia Millia Islamia
  92. Moinak Biswas, Professor, Department of Film Studies, Jadavpur University, Kolkata
  93. Pradip K Datta, Professor, Centre for Comparative Politics and Political Theory, SIS, JNU
  94. Kaushik Ghosh, Anthropologist, University of Texas at Austin, USA
  95. Sarada Balagopalan, Associate Professor, Childhood Studies, Rutgers University, USA
  96. Maurits van Bever Donker, Centre for Humanities Research, University of the Western Cape
  97. Dwaipayan Bhattacharyya, Professor, Centre for Political Studies, JNU
  98. Sanjeeb Mukherjee, Professor, Dept of Political Science, University of Calcutta
  99. Sanjay Kak, Filmmaker, New Delhi
  100. Saroj Giri, Dept of Political Science, University of Delhi
  101. Sunita Thakur, Journalist, BBC
  102. Kelly Gillespie, Head, Department of Anthropology, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg
  103. Aparna Balachandran, Department of History, University of Delhi
  104. C.P.Geevan, Independent Researcher, Ahmedabad
  105. Ashish Kothari, Pune
  106. Sharad Chari, Professor of Anthropology, Witwatersrand University, Johannesburg
  107. Abhinav Kumar, Researcher, Azim Premji Foundation
  108. Neema Pathak Broome, member Kalpavriksh, Pune
  109. Charu Gupta, Associate Professor, Department of History, University of Delhi
  110. Projit Bihari Mukharji, Assistant Professor, History & Sociology of Science, University of Pennsylvania
  111. Camalita Naicker, PhD Candidate, UHURU, Rhodes University South Africa, Former Student at JNU
  112. Satadru Sen, Professor of History, Queens College & Graduate Center, City University of New York
  113. Noosim Naimasiah, Makerere Institute of Social Research, Kampala, Uganda
  114. Alexandra Muller, Gender Health and Justice Research Unit, University of Cape Town, South Africa
  115. Rohan D’ Souza, Associate Professor, Graduate School of Asian and African Area Studies, Kyoto University
  116. Jonathan Gil Harris, Dean of Academic Affairs and Professor of English, Ashoka University
  117. Geeta Patel, Director, UVA in India Program, Associate Professor, University of Virginia
  118. Anjali Arondekar, Associate Professor, Dept. of Feminist Studies University of California, Santa Cruz
  119. Raka Ray Professor, Department of Sociology, University of California, Berkeley
  120. Maya Krishna Rao, Artiste, Delhi
  121. Suvir Kaul, Professor, Department of English, University of Pennsylvania
  122. Nathaniel Roberts, Research Fellow, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity
  123. David Kazanjian, Professor of English, Program in Comparative Literature and Literary Theory, University of Pennsylvania
  124. Mukul Kesavan, Dept of History, Jamia Millia Islamia
  125. Lakshmi Subramanian, Professor of History, Centre for the Study of Social Sciences, Kolkata
  126. Rosinka Chaudhuri, Professor of Cultural Studies, CSSS, Kolkata
  127. Rimli Bhattacharya, Senior Fellow in Cultural Studies, CSSS, Kolkata
  128. Ritajyoti Bandyopadhyay, Assistant Professor of Sociology, CSSS, Kolkata
  129. Kiran Kesavamurthy, Assistant Professor of Cultural Studies, CSSS, Kolkata
  130. Prachi Deshpande, Associate Professor of History, CSSS, Kolkata
  131. Suren Pillay, Associate Professor, Center for Humanities Research, University of the Western Cape, South Africa
  132. Ranjani Mazumdar, Professor, School of Arts and Aesthetics, JNU
  133. Ravi Sundaram, Professor, CSDS, Delhi
  134. Shirin M. Rai, Professor, Department of Politics and International Studies, University of Warwick
  135. Madhusree Mukherjee, Writer
  136. Aniket Alam, Executive Editor, Economic and Political Weekly
  137. Alice Morris, Director, PeopleCan Services, Ahmedabad
  138. Peter Ronald de Souza, Professor, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi
  139. Gil Anidjar, Professor, Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies, Columbia University
  140. Arindam Chakrabarti, Professor of Philosophy, University of Hawaii
  141. Rahul Govind, Assistant Professor, Dept of History, University of Delhi
  142. Josephine Park, Associate Professor of English, University of Pennsylvania
  143. James Caron, Lecturer in Islamicate South Asia, South Asian Languages and Cultures, SOAS, University of London
  144. Manjita Mukharji, Lecturer, Department of Religious Studies University of Pennsylvania, USA
  145. Tariq Thachil, Yale University
  146. Anne Norton, Professor and Chair, Dept of Political Science, University of Pennsylvania, member editorial board of Political Theory
  147. Sudipta Kaviraj, Professor, Columbia University, New York
  148. Francesca Orsini, Professor of Hindi and South Asian Literature, School of Asian and African Studies, University of London
  149. Jairus Banaji, Professor, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London
  150. Prathama Banerjee, Associate Professor, CSDS, Delhi
  151. Sibaji Bandyopadhyay, former Professor, CSSS, Kolkata
  152. Amiya Dev, former Vice-Chancellor, Vidyasagar University, West Bengal
  153. Ashwin, Independent Researcher, based in Azim Premji University, Bangalore
  154. V. J. Varghese, Assistant Professor, Department of History, University of Hyderabad
  155. Judith Butler, Maxine Elliot Professor of Comparative Literature and Critical Theory, UC Berkeley
  156. Wendy Brown, Professor of Political Science, UC Berkeley
  157. Inderpal Grewal, Yale University
  158. Rohit De, Assistant Professor, Department of History, Yale University
  159. Janaki Bakhle, Associate Professor, Dept of History, UC Berkeley
  160. Mrinalini Chakravorty, Associate Professor, University of Virginia
  161. Poulomi Saha, Assistant Professor of English, University of California, Berkeley
  162. Divya Cherian, Postdoctoral Fellow, Rutgers University, New Brunswick
  163. Arunabh Ghosh, Harvard University
  164. Arjun Appadurai, New York University, New York
  165. Kennan Ferguson, Director, Center for 21st Century Studies, Co-Editor, Theory & Event, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
  166. Bhavani Raman, Associate Professor, University of Toronto
  167. Prof. Josefina Saldaña, Department of Social & Cultural Analysis (SCA), Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS), New York University
  168. Paul Apostolidis, Professor and T. Paul Endowed Chair of Political Science, Whitman College, Walla Walla,USA,
  169. Megan Gallagher, Visiting Assistant Professor of Politics, Whitman College
  170. Anand Teltumbde, IIT Karagpur
  171. Victoria J. Collis-Buthelezi Professor of English, University of Cape TownT/WiSER, Wits
  172. Tom Cowan, King’s College, London
  173. Bruce A. Magnusson, Chair, Division I (Social Sciences), Associate Professor of Politics, Whitman College
  174. Jonathan S. Walters, Professor of Religion, George Hudson Ball Chair of Humanities, Whitman College, Walla Walla
  175. Renny Thomas,,Assistant Professor, University of Delhi
  176. Eleanor Newbigin, school of Oriental and African Studies, University of London
  177. Nicky Rousseau, Department of History, University of the Western Cape, South Africa
  178. Anna Madapalil, Graduate Student, Makerere Institute of Social Research, Kampala
  179. Gaurav Majumdar, Associate Professor of English, Whitman College, Walla Walla
  180. Anneeth Kaur Hundle, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, University of California, Merced
  181. Lawrence Cohen, University of California, Berkeley
  182. Gaiutra Bahadur, author of “Coolie Woman”
  183. Elizabeth Wingrove, Professor of Political Science and Women’s Studies, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  184. Teena Purohit, Boston University
  185. Jed Esty, Professor of English, University of Pennsylvania
  186. Timothy Corrigan, Professor of English, Cinema and Media Studies, and History of Art, Director of Cinema and Media Studies, University of Pennsylvania
  187. Sanjay Krishnan, Associate Professor , English Department, Boston University
  188. Saurabh Mishra, Lecturer, Department of History,, University of Sheffield
  189. Amy Kaplan, Edward W. Kane Professor of English, Department Chair, University of Pennsylvania
  190. Andrew Parker, Professor of French and Comparative Literature, Rutgers University, New Brunswick
  191. Paul Patton, Scientia Professor, FAHA, School of Humanities and Languages, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
  192. Debjani Bhattacharyya, Assistant Professor, Drexel University, Department of History , Philadelphia
  193. Rochana Bajpai, Senior Lecturer , Department of Politics and International Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London
  194. Shailaja Paik, Assistant Professor, Department of History, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati
  195. Allison Weir, Research Professor, Coordinator of the Doctoral Program in Social and Political Thought, Institute for Social Justice, Australian Catholic University
  196. Veena Hariharan, Assistant Professor, School of Art and Aesthetics, JNU
  197. Jane Bennett, Editor, Political Theory, Professor of Political Science, Johns Hopkins University, USA
  198. Anne Norton, Professor of Political Science, University of Pennsylvania, USA
  199. Rainer Forst, Professor of Political Theory and Philosophy, Institute of Political Science and Institute of Philosophy, Johann Wolfgang Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main, Germany
  200. Roxanne Euben, Ralph Emerson and Alice Freeman Palmer Professor of Political Science, Wellesley College, USA
  201. David Owen, Professor of Social and Political Pholosophy, University of Southampton, UK
  202. Neil Roberts, Chair of Religion and Associate Professor of Religious Studies, Williams College, USA
  203. Aletta Norval, Pro-Vice Chancellor Education , Professor of Education, University of Essex, UK
  204. David Scott, Professor of Anthropology, Columbia University
  205. Joya Chatterji, Director, Centre of South Asian Studies, University of Cambridge
  206. Manas Ray, Professor of Cultural Studies, Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta
  207. Gyan Pandey, Professor of History, Emory University, Atlanta
  208. Abhijit V. Banerjee, Professor of Economics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  209. Christophe Jaffrelot, Director, CERI, Paris
  210. Ramachandra Guha, historian, Bangalore
  211. Talal Asad, Professor of Anthropology, City University of New York
  212. Anupama Rao, Associate Professor of History, Barnard College, New York
  213. Ritty Lukose, Associate Professor, New York University
  214. Amitav Ghosh, author
  215. Kuan-Hsing Chen, Professor of Cultural Studies, Chiao Tung University, Taiwan
  216. Muzaffar Alam, Professor of South Asian Studies, University of Chicago
  217. Pranab Bardhan, Emeritus Professor of Economics, University of California at Berkeley
  218. Sunil Khilnani, Director, India Institute, King’s College, London
  219. Ruby Lal, Professor of South Asian Studies, Emory University
  220. Gauri Viswananthan, Professor of Comparative Literature, Columbia University
  221. Swati Chattopashyay, Professor of History of Architecture, University of California and Santa Barbara
  222. Thomas Blom Hansen, Professor of Anthropology, Stanford University
  223. Gitanjali Surendran, PhD and AM (Harvard), Mst (Oxon), MA (JNU), Associate Professor, Jindal Global Law School, and Executive Director, Centre for Law and Humanities
  224. Elyse Semerdjian, Director of Global Studies, Associate Professor of Islamic World/Middle East History, Whitman College
  225. Nandita Narain, Delhi University Teachers’ Association
  226. Rajeev Bhargav, Professor, CSDS, Delhi
  227. Neeladri Bhattacharya, Professor, CHS, JNU
  228. Lisa Damon, PhD fellow, MISR, Kampala, Uganda
  229. J Devika, Associate Professor, Centre for Development Studies, Kerala, India
  230. Uma Chakravarty, feminist historian and democratic rights activist, Delhi.
  231. Mimi Choudhury, Publisher, Orient Blackswan
  232. Poornima Paidipaty Philomathia Research Fellow, History, University of Cambridge
  233. Rochona Majumdar, The University of Chicago.
  234. Tejaswini Ganti, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, New York University
  235. Shayoni Mitra, Barnard College, Columbia University
  236. M. V. Ramana, Princeton University
  237. Samira Sheikh, Associate Professor of History, Vanderbilt University
  238. Debashree Mukherjee, Columbia University
  239. Joel Lee, Williams College, Massachusetts, United States
  240. Ulrike Stark, Professor, University of Chicago
  241. Dilip Simeon, Independent Scholar based in Delhi
  242. Benjamin Zachariah, University of Trier, Germany
  243. Nilita Vachani, Filmmaker, Writer and Teacher at New York University
  244. Arvind Elangovan, History Department, Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio
  245. Aditya Sarkar, University of Warwick
  246. Talia Meer, Gender, Health and Justice Research Unit, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town
  247. Alessandra Mezzadri, Lecturer, Department of Development Studies, SOAS, University of London
  248. Alpa Shah, London School of Economics
  249. Jens Lerche, Reader, Department of Development Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London
  250. Sumi Madhok, Gender Institute, London School of Economics
  251. Rochisha Narayan, Yale-NUS College
  252. John Harriss, Professor of International Studies, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver
  253. Dipti Khera, Assistant Professor, Department of Art History and Institute of Fine Arts,
    New York University
  254. Rada Ivekovic, Professor, based in France;
  255. Goran Fejic, political and human rights analyst, France.
  256. Ajay Skaria, Department of History/Institute of Global Studies, University of Minnesota
  257. Debraj Ray, Julius Silver Professor, Faculty of Arts and Science, and Professor of Economics, New York University
  258. John Mathew, Associate Professor, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) Pune,
  259. Sandra Swart, Professor, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
  260. Toorjo Ghose, Associate Professor, Chair, Racism & Social Change Sequence School of Social Policy & Practice, University of Pennsylvania
  261. Sheba Tejani, Assistant Proefesor, NYU, New York
  262. Geetanjalishree, Writer, Delhi
  263. Jayeeta Sharma, Associate Professor, University of Toronto, Canada
  264. Daniel Eric Bender, Canada Research Chair, University of Toronto, Canada
  265. Babacar Fall, FASTEF – University Cheikh Anta Diop of Dakar – Senegal
  266. Anshu Malhotra, Associate Professor, Department of History, University of Delhi
  267. Satyajit Singh, Professor, Dept. of POlitical Science, Universitty of Delhi
  268. James F. English, John Welsh Centennial Professor of English, University of Pennsylvania
  269. Akshaya Tankha, Doctoral Candidate, University of Toronto
  270. Jayadev Athreya, Associate Professor, Director, Washington Experimental Mathematics Lab, University of Washington
  271. Svati P. Shah, Associate Professor, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  272. Bakirathi Mani, Associate Professor, Department of English Literature, Swarthmore College
  273. Sunil Kumar, Professor in the History of Medieval India,, Department of History, Delhi University
  274. Lepa Mladjenovic, Belgrade
  275. Tyler Williams, Assistant Professor, South Asian Languages and Civilizations, University of Chicago
  276. Ahona Panda, graduate student, University of Chicago
  277. Sharika Thiranagama, Stanford University
  278. Suroopa Mukherjee, Dept of English, Hindu College
  279. Pingla Udit, independent researcher on peace and conflict issues on African continent
  280. Ranabir Samaddar, Mahanirban Calcutta Research Group, Kolkata
  281. Carolyn J. Eichner, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeto
  282. Madhulika Banerjee, Professor Department of Political Science, University of Delhi.
  283. Achin Vanaik, Retired Professor of International Relations, University of Delhi
  284. Althea R. Sircar, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Political Science, UCLA
  285. Rachel Sturman, Associate Professor, Department of History & Asian Studies Program, Bowdoin College, Brunswick, US
  286. Sanjay Palshikar, Professor, Dept of Political Science, University of Hyderabad
  287. Women in Black, Zene u crnom Jug Bogdanova 18, Beograd
  288. Mark Griffiths, University of Oulu
  289. Ramani Muttettuwegama, Attorney at Law
  290. Navdeep Mathur, Public Systems Group, IIM Ahmedabad
  291. Pooja Satyogi, Assistant Professor, University of Delhi
  292. Hilal Ahmed, Assistant Professor, CSDS, Delhi
  293. Uditi Sen, Assistant Professor of History and South Asian Studies
  294. Natalie Zemon Davis, Professor, University of Toronto
  295. Anand Vivek Taneja, Assistant Professor, Religious Studies and Anthropology, Vanderbilt University
  296. Debjani Ganguly, Professor of English and Director, Institute of the Humanities and Global Cultures, University of Virginia
  297. James Manor, School of Advanced Study, London
  298. Haydee Bangerezako, Makerere Institute of Social Research
  299. Naresh Dadhich, Jamia/IUCAA
  300. Chris Vance, York University, Toronto, Canada, PhD Candidate
  301. Chimney Banerjee PhD, Simon Fraser University (Retired); President, South Asian Network for Secularism and Democracy (SANSAD)
  302. Sukhy Dhillon, B.G.S, B.Ed., M.Ed., Diploma Counseling — University of BC, Canada
  303. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, University Proefessor, Dept of English and Comparative Literature, Columbia University

15 thoughts on “Academics Worldwide Against the Vilification of Nivedita Menon”

  1. Having read Prof. Menon’s eye-opening book “Seeing Like a Feminist”,and having admired the intellectual rigour and honesty she brings to her research and her teaching, I too support her wholeheartedly and condemn Zee News, its petty-minded, lying anchor Sudhir Choudhary, and the political forces that prop up such bigoted media houses.


  2. A very impressive list of supporters of the freedom of speech of Ms Nivedia Menon. Some of them I have known personally. I earnestly support her freedom, but also that of others who do not conquer with her opinions and methods. Democracy must not be limited to a few self styled intellectuals, scholars and privileged individuals, but to all citizens. Having said that, the list is drawn very heavily from non-Indian Universities, including the US. I myself have been on the faculty of a prestigious private University in the US. The kind of student activity that has surfaced recently at JNU, and the active involvement of a section of faculty, has been unimaginable in my own or any other US University during my four decades of service. I wonder if any of the US Professors in your list, or their students, can exercise their freedom of speech as happening in JNU. Should we then assume that they have no democratic freedom of speech or they wish to define that term very differently in Indian context. Kafila is good example where dissenting voices are suppressed, even when are made in a polite and respectful manner.


    1. That is not true. Kafila never turns down a comment that uses reasonably polite language and makes a relevant point, dissenting or otherwise. But we do discourage right wing abuse, personal attacks, and repetitive or completely irrelevant comments. Of course, we exercise or judgment when we decide. Also, there are members who allow all sorts of comments on their respective posts too, so even this is not a strictly enforced general policy.


    2. RamDarshanSharma
      1. In what way has the freedom of speech of those who do not agree with Nivedita Menon been curbed by her, by JNU, in cyberspace or by the state?
      2. This particular statement is from academics both based in India and from outside India (including Bangladesh, South Africa and Uganda apart from the US) – 70 of 154 signatories are based in India – roughly half. Yet you see it as “heavily” drawn from outside India, implying some lack of legitimacy? In addition, there are several other statements from people based in India, in support of democratic freedoms and of Nivedita Menon, on several other portals, including on Facebook, we suggest you do a simple search. Those are all from people based here, in India, who are opposed to these fascist incursions into our democracy.
      3. What exactly is “the kind of student activity” that has “surfaced” in JNU that you find so “unimaginable”? Allegations of particular slogans raised and so on have been proved to have been based on doctored tapes. There is even an indication that the entire clampdown was planned and orchestrated from Nagpur, RSS Headquarters, with IB involvement. There have been articles on this in Kafila as well as elsewhere. Be that as it may, are you claiming that it is unimaginable to oppose capital punishment or to criticize the Indian state or judiciary? That was what the event was doing.
      Or is it unimaginable to discuss openly the histories of nation-states, showing how different parts of what looks like a natural formation (“India”, or “USA” or “France”) came to be incorporated, either willingly or unwillingly, into particular nation-states?
      Is it “unimaginable” to do archival research that would show how Manipur was incorporated, or Kashmir, or Nagaland?
      4. You wonder “if any of the US Professors in your list, or their students, can exercise their freedom of speech as happening in JNU”.
      The “US Professors” on this list (and indeed every person on this list), has opposed sectarian politics, imperialism and racism in their own contexts, some at great risk to themselves. so please dont make facile and ignorant assumptions.
      5. As for Kafila, we do moderate comments, we say so explicitly. We are one of the few forums on-line where opinions and views contrary to the massive right-wing presence in cyberspace and other mainstream media, are expressed. We see no reason why those views should take over our little part of cyberspace, with their insinuations, accusations and allegations, however “politely expressed”.
      We do not call out state machinery on those whose views are majoritarian and right-wing, we do not abuse them or threaten them with violence, we do not try to silence them, we simply don’t give them space on our website.
      On Kafila we want to give space to the wide spectrum of voices and debates within what is termed “dissent”, not to reproduce the polarized “right-left” high decibel shouting that passes for debate in mainstream media.


    3. Your comment, am sorry sir, is a clear pointer of the fact that, education alone will not help one to look at things around in a rational way. The backgrounds in which one has been brought up would keep on appearing in various ways irrespective of the education. What a pity.


    4. From The Indian Express

      Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu may feel that no American university would allow students to commemorate Osama bin Laden on campus the way Afzal Guru’s death was marked in JNU, but Princeton University President Christopher L. Eisgruber begs to differ. “We would and should tolerate that. It would be very disruptive. People would be very angry about the statement. But we would not discipline somebody for making statements of that nature,” Eisgruber told The Indian Express.


  3. @ Sunalini Kumar, I thought the #JNU intellectuals do not believe in conspiracy theories. Is this planned and orchestrated from Nagpur, RSS Headquarters, with IB involvement: >>> : who is heckling Prof Makarand Paranjape?

    I taught in half a dozon of universities and lectured more than 100 univs spread over three continents. I never saw a place where students occupying administrative premises and sloganeering. What culture and education is this? No wonder they want desh ki barbadi – Gobardhan Das, Professor at JNU on Twitter

    Reprehensible sloganeering, calling for India’s destruction, effigy-burning, vandalising the buildings, has NO place in a centre of learning – Anand Ranganathan ‏@ARangarajan1972 on Twitter


      1. @Avinashk1975 , I do not even know where to begin.
        1. As for Prof paranjape’s speech , if you had cared to actually see through it entirely, you would also have noticed him thanking the audience for the civility with which they heard his lecture. The little heckling that happened during Q and A in face of the outright povocation in his comments is part of any engagement that happens when you choose to take contrary stands . I am amazed that this is thought of as harassment when we see the everyday sheer hostility, open threats, violence, intimidation , witch hunting misuse of state machinery and partisan political interference that JNu students and teachers have faced over the ppast few weeks . And i can gaurantee you, if a left leaning person had dared to take on the right in any of the several right wing bastions of hooligan ABVP politics in so many universities we’ve been to, i wonder if he would still be in one piece. Shall i link you to the several incidents of outright hooliganism and obstruction and cancellations under pressure of anyone who does not agree with their politics have happened across the country ? Shall i mention the several people who’ve been beaten up, harassed , hounded, police complaints and administrative complaints filed against them?
        2. I may have been to lesser number of universities than you but i cannot remember a single university with an active students’s movement where students do not occupy open spaces near centres of authority , especially administrative blocks, and if necessary gherao them ! Here in India, in US, in UK, in the middle east, in south africa, in latin america !! And sloganeering is an integral part of any protest anywhere – it distills and translates the essence and objectives of any protest in a manner which makes it possibel for them to be understood by a much wider audience in a simple and direct manner . Really, sloganeering is the most standard form of protest anywhere , unless we decide that protest and resistance itself is wrong irrespective of what the issues at stake are !
        3″.Reprehensible sloganeering, calling for India’s destruction, effigy-burning, vandalising the buildings, has NO place in a centre of learning “. Really, Where exactly did you see JNU students doing any of this beyond doctored videos ? Where was the vandalising ? Has it it been proved that any jnu student was responsible for what could be reprehensible sloganeering or kangaroo cours and media trials are an order of teh day for everyone?
        4. As for conspiracies , we needed to experience them to believe them, you need not despite all the evidence and questions that are coming up, but maybe then you can also not jump into teh bandwagon and believe what the other side is saying too unless things are proven ? I wonder why those doing the actual sloganeering you find reprehensible are still at large by the police’s own admission , while other students are in jail . Not to speak of goon lawyers , anti social elements , bjp mla’s and Mp’s who are making one outrageous statement after another threatening to kill, rape, murder openly being allowed to roam about freely and with impunity.
        Nothing can be done about such blatant partisanship and one sidedness in face of all that has happened and continues to happen.


    1. Incredible Sir. You havent seen students protesting in admin spaces in University? I suspect you were teaching in Gurkuls or universities run under certain Godmen and ashrams then.


  4. Prof. Menon has our full support as far as her freedom of expression is concerned. However, what she is asserting needs to be dispassionately evaluated and critiqued. Her assertions on J&K are completely wrong and are bereft of any factual backing. One does expect to see same level of academic rigor behind her public pronouncements that hopefully she brings to her lectures at JNU.
    Here is a point of view that I hope signatories of this letter take few minutes to read and reflect.


    1. Avinash, do think clearly, please. How does someone “heckling” Prof Paranjpe at his lecture disprove the possibility that the attack on JNU was planned for a long time, as editorials in Organizer and Panchjanya attest? If you have the time and/or the inclination to read, take a look at Pramod Ranjan here, showing an uncanny similarity between the Panchjanya editorial of a few months before February 9th, and the Delhi Police report on the event after it happened.
      This post details the reasons it seems plausible that the “slogan shouting students” were known to the Delhi Police and IB.
      As for the tweets you post here, it seems they are talking about the ABVP and its tactics, No effigy burning or vanadalising of buildings has taken place except by the ABVP, and that too, not on JNU campus which has a remarkable record of no physical violence on campus.


    2. Rajesh Razdan,
      Yes, Aarti Tikoo Singh’s blog post has had a lot of traction in this whole business. A substantive response from me to the debate on Kashmir will have to wait, but for the moment, let me state that:
      a) Singh’s account that goes over the well known Indian statist account of Kashmir, which is comfortable for many, is merely one version. Her “facts” can be countered by decades of “other facts” arising from scholarship and research by many others. The point here is that we are not confronting “facts” with “non-facts”, but confronting differing notions of nationhood with one another, and figuring out what it would mean to take democracy seriously. In that sense, I prefer the kind of honest argument that says “I dont care about the history of nation-formation, but India should not be dismembered”. At least we know what we are disagreeing on, then, whether the term dismemberment accurately reflects what might happen, etc.
      b) What becomes evident from these kind of interventions claiming I am lying, distorting, or am simply more ignorant than any person who can write a competent term paper on India’s official position on Kashmir, is that Kashmir is a disputed and controversial issue, that is simply not debated in mainstream, educated India. The debate is now happening, not in marginal circles, but in the heart of the mainstream – surely that is the purpose of intellectual activity?
      Saurabh Sharma of ABVP said in a recent interview, very honestly:
      “Go back to text books. I have never read in any school book that Kashmir is not an integral part of the country.”
      On being asked in response by the interviewer whether one might learn more in college than one knew in school, his frank response is:
      “I would have never got full marks if I had written in my exams that Kashmir was not an integral part of India.” Now, Saurabh is a research scholar in neuroscience, his last social science text-book would have been read in Class 10, at the age of 15, and of course he would have got not just “not full marks”, but a zero if he had written anything else in his exam.
      We might want to ask – why is that sort of education considered “neutral”, while opening up arbitrarily settled matters for debate and discussion becomes “propaganda”? It may be true for the sciences that some matters are beyond debate, but surely not for politics, history, and social sciences in general.
      c) The signatories to this letter are not taking a stand on the substantive arguments at stake, but on the ways in which debate, democratic rights and the right to dissent are being attempted to be stifled through non-state mechanisms (privately owned media with a clear agenda, for example) inciting mob violence, and by the invocation of coercive apparatus of the state by private individuals against those whose opinions with which they disagree.


  5. Dear Nivi,

    Please add me to the list of people who’ve signed the letter in support of you and Gauhar.

    Take care,


    Max Planck Institute for the History of Science


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