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In Every Issue ::

Letters...but in all the shouting, no one’s listening.


This is in response to the first two feature articles of the December/04 issue. I felt the need to write as an alumna of the University of Chicago who returned to India after receiving a PhD (with honors) and built her professional career in India, apart from an academic year spent as a fellow of the National Humanities Center in the United States. I am shocked and amazed that the University of Chicago Magazine should profile a former CIA agent in a lead story [“Spy Guy”], given the very negative image the CIA has come to acquire among many millions of ordinary people worldwide.

I am also extremely disturbed by the hegemonic attitude to Hinduism studies on the part of University of Chicago scholars that came through in “The Interpretation of Gods.” I myself have publicly gone on record in India against the excesses of the Hindu right (in my country and abroad), and during my years as a graduate student at Chicago I took particular pleasure in tearing up and throwing away the optional religious affiliation form, given my mixed atheist, Hindu, Brahmo, and Unitarian upbringing and refusal to be pigeonholed as a “Hindu.” During my student years at Chicago and much more recently during a visit to the University in June 2004, however, I experienced both humiliation and substantive discrimination directed quite obviously at my ethnicity and gender, mitigated only by the unexpectedly warm support of individual faculty members who have themselves been marginalized within the University in significant ways. Not all of the reactive animosity toward these scholars of Hinduism can, therefore, be ascribed to the excesses of Hindu fundamentalism.

Tista Bagchi, PhD’93

The Magazine has received a score of letters responding to “The Interpretation of Gods”; these are a representative sampling.—Ed.

The Magazine welcomes letters. Letters for publication must be signed and may be edited. To ensure a range of views, we encourage letters of fewer than 300 words. Write Editor, University of Chicago Magazine, 5801 S. Ellis Avenue, Chicago, IL 60637. Or e-mail: