Huge and important question. Academics have a wide variety of tools designed to deal with this. An impromptu #THREAD
One, you have to identify possible biases. This involves knowing, a lot, about the history of ideas, one's particular disciplines, one's areas of study, etc.

Often, biases have gone, well, sort of transnational and across identity boundaries. One example --
How we define religion, often, carries extensive Protestant biases. You may never have set foot inside a church and you may know nothing about Christianity, but you probably have these biases due to their widespread diffusion.

Those of us who work on religion learn & teach this.
Critical reading and historical method.

We learn how to search for evidence and then how to read it, even interrogate it, from many angles. This takes years of practice to learn, and we never stop trying to improve.
Behind all of this is good-faith buy-in to scholarly methods of analysis.

Keep in mind that many people reject scholarly precepts outright. They want glory stories, or to justify their modern-day hate, or to promote specific politics at any cost.

Scholars are different.
The scholar's thirst for knowledge makes us incomprehensible to many people.

This is one reason why we see so much projection. Right-wingers accuse us of acting in bad-faith, because that's what they do. They accuse us of bias and prejudice, because those are their foundations.
So, how do we know we're doing an alright job at pursuing knowledge and checking our biases? A couple of thoughts --
We rely on each other to check our work.

Ever read the acknowledgements of a scholar's book? They're often extensive (except in the Indian editions of my books where I omit them due to possible threats of violence; that's another story).

Peer review is another piece.
Personally, I've made a number of arguments in scholarship over the years that, frankly, I didn't originally intend to make and, even, didn't really want to make.

My feelings don't matter in such regards. I follow the evidence. Full stop.
So, next time you're upset that I didn't soft pedal some aspects of Indian history or Hindu religious texts that might offend your sentiments, take heart that I treat myself the same way. No soft pedaling.
Theory helps scholars think more clearly (sometimes).

Theory isn't just spouting keywords that you've learned, btw. But real engagement with decolonization ideas, critical race theory, intersectionality, etc. can help scholars work through evidentiary and bias issues alike.
That's what comes to mind pre-coffee.

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More from @AudreyTruschke

13 Mar
This sort of sentiment reflects a common misunderstanding about the academic study of religion.

So, let's do what we do as scholars -- Treat this as a teachable moment.

A short #THREAD
We want to distinguish two different contexts --

Practicing a religion.
Academically studying a religion.

There is overlap in the sense that practitioners can also engage in the academic study of their religion. But the two contexts are different, with distinct precepts.
First -- Practitioners. Most people encounter religion in in this context, at temple, in church, at mosque, or in home practices.

Commonly (although far from always), there is an assumption to have a voice in this context, you should be a member of the given religious group.
Read 12 tweets
13 Mar
As @YashicaDutt has won the Sahitya Akademi Yuva Puraskar 2020 literary award for her memoir "Coming Out As Dalit," a short #THREAD on what really stuck me with me after reading the book.
The main story is very compelling. Yashica narrates her relationship to her caste identity, in detail, over decades. She puts her story in a broader social context.

What still plays in my mind today is her discussion of #Ambedkar.
I went into the book knowing a lot about #Ambedkar. I've read many of his writings. I teach about Ambedkar, including his fraught relationship with Gandhi, his religious ideas, his role in crafting the Indian constitution, his legacies today, and more.
Read 5 tweets
6 Mar
So, folks, education is really important. Otherwise, you keep yourself ignorant and, even worse, perpetuate hateful ideas.

In this #THREAD are topics that some people seem confused about recently with resources for those who want to fix their ignorance.
The nexus -- uncomfortable for so many of us -- between Hindu nationalism and white supremacy. Yes, that's a real thing. One take on that here:…
another take, delving into a slightly deeper past (although not that far into the past because Hindu nationalism is a pretty recent phenomenon, historically-speaking):…
Read 12 tweets
6 Feb
As we all watch Hindu nationalists burn effigies of foreign women...

It seems a relevant moment to bring up a light change, made on a legal advice, to The Language of History (my most recent book). Take a look for yourself. I had to take out "Hindutva" here to publish in India:
Background knowledge --

India censors stuff all the time -- books, movies, news, etc. This isn't new, but it has ramped up with the BJP in power since 2014. They use colonial-era laws that were designed to restrict Indian freedoms and extrajudicial means (e.g., violence).
Largely because of a high-profile lawsuit concerning an academic book in India several years ago, publishers now act with caution.
Read 9 tweets
6 Dec 20
28 years since a mob destroyed the #babrimasjid, a rare Babur-period mosque. How much do you know about this event and its repercussions?
On some of the lead-up to this terrible event:
Basic timeline of key events (note that 300+ year gap between events 1 and 2... the #babrimasjid dispute has always been a modern issue, not a premodern one):…
Read 7 tweets
20 Oct 20
Folks, I'm on a real bender of reading up on colonial-era India (don't judge; this is just how historians are). My recent and current reading lists include:
Durba Mitra's Indian Sex Life: Sexuality and the Colonial Origins of Modern Social Thought…
Debjani Bhattacharyya's Empire and Ecology in the Bengal Delta: The Making of Calcutta…
Read 6 tweets

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