Thursday, March 10, 2016

A Pollockism

Pollock concludes in his essay "Deep Orientalism":
“From its colonial origins in Justice Sir William to its consummation in SS Obersturmführer [a senior rank in the Nazi party] Wüst, Sanskrit and Indian studies have contributed directly to consolidating and sustaining programs of domination. In this (noteworthy orthogenesis) these studies have recapitulated the character of their subject, that indigenous discourse of power for which Sanskrit has been one major vehicle and which has shown a notable longevity and resilience.”
In brief, the Germans learned Sanskrit, and that caused them to be infected with Nazi doctrines, per Pollock. 

Other scholars have remarked that Pollock is remarkably thin on evidence.

To quote Rajiv Malhotra, Reinhold Grünendahl "says Pollock's narrative "is not an evidence-based study of Orientalism or Indology in Germany, but a sophisticated charge of anti-Semitisim based largely on trumped-up "evidence"...... He takes up the question of Pollock's attempt to associate Indology with Paul Lagarde (1827-91), a noted German scholar who focused his analysis on Greek, Arabic and Hebrew texts using tools of comparative philology.  Grünendahl says there is no evidence that Lagarde was influenced by Indology or had any association with it.  Lagarde's The Current Tasks of German Politics is supposed to have deeply influenced Hitler.   In it, he called for (a) unification of the German peoples, and (b) relocation of Polish and Austrian Jews to Palestine.  During his lifetime, he was seen and celebrated for his knowledge of classical Greek and Hebrew — not anything remotely connected with Sanskrit.  Interestingly, the 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia has a detailed entry on Lagarde, with no mention of his association, in any way, to Sanskrit, Indology or India.