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Advocacy, Historians at Risk

On October 7, AHA President John McNeill sent a letter to Vice Chancellor Mamidala Jagadesh Kumar of Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi to discourage the university’s review of Romila Thapar’s status as emeritus professor. McNeill cited her impressive record of contributions and achievements, including being named an AHA Honorary Foreign Member.

October 7, 2019

Mamidala Jagadesh Kumar
Vice Chancellor
Jawaharlal Nehru University
New Delhi-11 067

Dear Vice Chancellor Kumar:

The American Historical Association expresses deep concern over Jawaharlal Nehru University’s decision to review Romila Thapar’s status as emeritus professor. Professor Thapar is a distinguished scholar, deeply respected by historians on many continents. Considering her extraordinary record of scholarly achievement, the Association believes that there is no need to review her richly deserved position as emeritus professor.

The AHA is the largest association of professional historians in the world, with over 12,000 members. In 2009 the AHA named Professor Thapar an honorary foreign member—one of the highest honors the Association bestows—in recognition of her standing as one of India’s most distinguished historians. “To put it simply,” we wrote in our award citation, “Professor Thapar’s work is the bedrock of allscholarly study of the early South Asian past.”


John R. McNeill
President, American Historical Association