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Oxford to Reprint Controversial Books by former South Asian Languages and Cultures professor, A.K. Ramanujan

After facing harsh criticism and a lawsuit, Oxford University Press will reprint two books that contain “300 Ramayanas,” a controversial essay by the late A.K. Ramanujan. Ramanujan was instrumental in developing University of Chicago’s South Asian Studies program and worked with the South Asian Languages and Civilization department, the Linguistics department, and the Committee on Social Thought.

Many academics criticized OUP’s decision to stop printing the late University of Chicago professor’s works because some material  was thought to be offensive to the Hindu faith. The books, The Collected Essays of A.K. Ramanujan and Many Ramayanas: The Diversity of a Narrative Tradition in South Asia, will be reprinted “immediately,” according to OUP.

From Cherwell, the independent student newspaper at Oxford University:

Campaigners at Oxford University said they were “extremely glad that OUP recognised the importance of reprinting these books.”  The three organisers of an international petition to reprint the books issued a joint statement, stating “We whole-heartedly support this affirmation of OUP’s longstanding commitment to excellence in scholarship, to the broadest possible dissemination of knowledge, and to the right of scholars, writers, and artists to freedom of thought and expression everywhere.”

From the Times of India:

[OUP’s] move kicked up a big controversy, with top history scholars in India and abroad criticizing “censorship” in academics. OUP’s decision was conveyed to 450 scholars who had signed a petition against non-publishing of Ramanujan’s book and essay.

The Special Collections Research Center houses Ramanujan’s papers, which contain more than 50 years of correspondence, diaries, photographs, and other materials.

Read the Oxford University’s Cherwell story here. Read the Times of India story here.

Read past news stories about Ramanujan from the University News office here, here, and here.

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