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The Right to Reason and Imagine: Architects in Solidarity with the JNU Community

Guest Post by Architects from all over India and elsewhere

To: The JNU Teachers Association, JNU Students Union

CC: Vice Chancellor, JNU

We, the undersigned, are writing this in utmost shock and despair regarding the recent events and developments at your campus. We want to extend our full support to the JNU teachers association and the democratically elected JNU Student Union. We believe there is a difference between the nation, the state and the government of the day, and fully support your constitutional right to air your positions, as different or diverse as they may be, without illegal interference from any particular ruling ideology, party or state machinery.

As those engaged in architecture, we believe that imagination and reason are the highest of human faculties. This gift is what we constantly cultivate and rely on – in academia and in practice – when we question what exists, however natural, fixed and irreplaceable it may seem, and fearlessly posit alternatives. Indeed, there is little difference for us between possessing a moral imagination and being able to imagine such alternate worlds and other ways of being.

The inability therefore to envision life in another’s shoes, to disagree and to counter ideas with more aesthetic or eloquent ones without resorting to character assassination, violence and charges of anti-nationalism, betray to us an alarming lack of imagination, and we strongly condemn this in all its forms.

We condemn this absence of imagination and the physical and epistemic violence it has unleashed on the university community especially teachers and students. We stand with you in support of the university as a marketplace of ideas where all ideas and opinions are passionately argued, ripped apart, defended and critically re-imagined in ever new ways, leading to a more enlightened citizenry. This must be allowed to happen without fear or favor, risk of persecution or charges of sedition. If nothing else, the imagination of our founding fathers demands it, and we are in solidarity with your right to exercise it.

(This statement represents us in our individual capacities and not the institutions we are associated with.)

(In alphabetical order)

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