IU professors Jamsheed Kairshasp Choksy and David Michael Hertz are two of three Hoosiers nominated this year to the council, which is part of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Hertz is being reappointed. President Bush also selected Marvin Bailey Scott, of Indianapolis, for the remainder of a six-year term expiring in 2010. Their nominations await Senate confirmation.
“It is an honor to have been nominated by the President. If confirmed by the Senate, I look forward to serving this great nation and ensuring the vibrancy of the humanities in our society,” Choksy said. “There’s always a need to keep reinvigorating the humanities, because they provide the foundation that glues our society together.”
Upon learning of his second nomination, Hertz commented that the first chance to go to Washington and join the NEH Council as an advocate for the humanities was a great honor and a career highpoint. “I learned a great deal there,” he said. “A second opportunity, should I be confirmed by the Senate, is even more exciting. I am very grateful to the president for this second nomination to work on the NEH Council.”
“These nominations provide further evidence for what I’ve learned since coming to IU,” said Bennett I. Bertenthal, dean of the IU College of Arts and Sciences. “We have outstanding faculty in a wide range of disciplines who are appointed to positions of national leadership because of the esteem and respect with which they are viewed by colleagues in their disciplines.”
Choksy, born in Mumbai, India, grew up in Colombo, Sri Lanka, before coming to the United States to attend Columbia University and Harvard University. Now a U.S. citizen, he is a professor of Central Eurasian studies and history, an adjunct professor of religious studies, and an affiliated faculty member of India studies and ancient studies at IU. He also has served as chairman of the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures and as director of the Middle Eastern Studies Program at IU.
A highly accomplished scholar and researcher, Choksy has been a recipient of an Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, an American Philosophical Society Fellowship, and two research grants from the American Academy of Religion. He was selected as the Government of India Research Fellowship lecturer in 1998.
His research examines the development of sectarian communities in Central Asia, the Near East and South Asia — where he has traveled extensively — through interdisciplinary approaches involving anthropology, archeology, history, languages, linguistics, literatures, numismatics and religious studies.
Choksy is the author of three books: Evil, Good, and Gender: Facets of the Feminine in Zoroastrian Religious History (Peter Lang Publishers, 2002); Conflict and Cooperation: Zoroastrian Subalterns and Muslim Elites in Medieval Iranian Society (Columbia University Press, 1997); and Purity and Pollution in Zoroastrianism: Triumph over Evil (University of Texas Press, 1989). He is currently writing a book on the history of Iranian religions for Harvard University Press and is an associate editor of the Encyclopedia of Sex and Gender, 4 vols. (Macmillan, 2007).
Before joining IU, Choksy taught in the Department of History and the International Relations Program at Stanford University as a visiting assistant professor from 1991-1993. He was a member and a NEH Fellow at the School of Historical Studies in the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, N.J., from 1993-1994.
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