Thursday, April 29, 2010

Rightly Said, Amitav Ghosh

This is Amitav Ghosh's reply to groups that insisted that he decline the Dan David Prize which he is being conferred jointly with Margaret Atwood, more here on Kafila.org.

"I would like to state clearly that I do not believe in embargoes and boycotts where they concern matters of culture and learning. On the contrary I believe very strongly that it is important to defend the notion that institutions of culture and learning must, in principle, be regarded as autonomous of the state. Or else every writer in America and Britain, and everyone who teaches in a British or American university, would necessarily be implicated in the Iraq war, and by extension, in Israel's actions in Gaza and Palestine. Similarly every Indian writer and academic would also be complicit in the actions of the Indian government in areas of conflict. And if we don't defend this principle how will we defend the rights of dissent of those who are employed in universities especially, for instance, in times of war, when reasons of state can be cited to create an explicit complicity?"

Makes sense. We sometimes mistake a few people for the whole community and the country. Like that part about disenfranchised dissenters who work against heavy odds within their own borders.

1 comment:

ms said...

i don't know why we can't just enjoy a writer's work without politicising it. are the offerings by shakespeare, byron, chaucer, austen, hardy, dickens etc etc less great because they belong to the country we got independence from? i am sure indians were reading english literature before 1947. and margaret atwood, apart from being a writer of some renown, she is also an environmentalist. the criticism must stem from her membership of the Bloc Québécois, a Quebec separatist party. but why would it sully amitava's reputation to share the award with her? is she a "commie"? hey, the mcarthy era ended decades ago and left wingers are tres popular now!