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Monday, December 12, 2011

Inside Higher Ed: The Right of Scholars, Writers and Artists to Freedom of Thought and Expression

Essays of A.K. Ramanujan   
More intrigue involving a scholar's work ... And possible censorship.

A revered scholarly publisher, Oxford Press, who should know better, did finally come to the right decision RE very popular(but lately controversial) works by the late Indian scholar,  A.K. Ramanujan.

Details here by Scott Jaschik from INSIDE HIGHER ED:

About-Face by Oxford Press

Just weeks after hundreds of scholars blasted Oxford University Press for ending publication of certain works that have become controversial in India, the press announced that it would republish the works, and distribute them in India and elsewhere.

Oxford made the announcement Friday in an e-mail to the scholars who signed a letter to the press expressing their anger over what was viewed as caving in to right-wing Indian nationalists who were offended by some of the work of the late A.K. Ramanujan. The author, during a career largely spent at the University of Chicago, was considered one of the most influential scholars of Indian cultures and literatures. The scholars charged that the press -- by stopping distribution of Ramanujan's works -- was engaged in scholarly "self-abasement."

Immediately after the scholars sent the letter, Oxford played down the dispute and said that the various works of Ramanujan were out of circulation for economic reasons, withdrawn due to "minimal sales," not due to any pressure in India. While the press offered to meet with the concerned scholars, officials indicated that there was no need to change any publishing decision.

But on Friday, the press reversed course. Its letter to scholars said: "Given the current concern expressed by members of the scholarly community about the availability of The Collected Essays and Many Ramayanas we have taken the decision to reprint both titles immediately and make them available in India and beyond. We are also making Questioning Ramayanas available again. All three titles are available to order from the OUP India website and bookshops across India."

The Ramayana is a Sanskrit epic revered by many Hindus. An essay by Ramanujan -- "Three Hundred Ramayanas" -- has infuriated some in India for references to Rama, a Hindu god, that were not consistent with right-wing Hindu beliefs. That dispute led Delhi University in October to agree to stop teaching the essay -- a move that Salman Rushdie said amounted to "academic censorship." And the controversy then led a group of scholars worldwide to demand that Oxford either start publishing the books again, including in India, or to give up copyright over the books so that others could publish them.

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