Continuing the debate on the controversial Association of Asian Studies conference recently held in Delhi, to which Pakistani participants were denied visas by the Indian government, following which there was a call to boycott the conference.
Nandini Sundar wrote an article in The Wire which we re-posted on Kafila. This is a response to that article by Ajantha Subramanian, Suvir Kaul, Rupa Viswanath, Rebecca Karl, Ania Loomba and Nate Roberts, also in The Wire.
As signatories to the call for a boycott of the AAS-in-Asia conference in Delhi (July 4-8, 2018), we have been vocal critics of how the Association for Asian Studies – a membership-funded professional organisation based in the US for scholars of Asia around the world – has handled the government of India ban on Pakistani scholars (based on both nationality and descent). We now write because the debate that our call for action provoked raises important questions about location, ethics and nationalism when it comes to the right to protest. These questions are important in our age of escalating international exchange as well as national chauvinism.
Our critique has focused on the AAS, an organisation that was informed of the preemptive ban and which, in conjunction with Ashoka University, their private university partner in New Delhi, concealed it from the general membership – as well as the general public – for months. Although the organisation claims it did its part by putting the letter banning Pakistanis on its conference website, no one would find it unless they were looking for it. Knowledge of the ban only became public when The Wire broke the story on June 7, 2018.