An Eminent Victorian: Gandhi and the Crisis of Liberal Democracy in the 19th Century

Gandhi, Hind Swaraj

An Eminent Victorian: Gandhi and the Crisis of Liberal Democracy in the 19th Century

Tuesday, 25 April 2017 - 2:00pm
Venue: 
Fellows' Dining Room
Speaker(s): 
Dilip M. Menon (Witwatersrand)
Convenor: 
Dr Faisal Devji
Series: 
South Asia Seminar

Gandhi’s lauded text Hind Swaraj is born of and located within the 19th century crisis of liberal democracy and its resolutions of an intimate animosity towards the masses. Gandhi shares considerable terrain with Indian liberals writing in the late 19th and early 20th century; the text can be seen as articulating a certain kind of conservatism that attempts to think with “recovering liberties” that Christopher Bayly charts in all its nuances of a global historicism, statistical liberalism and a benign sociology. While Gandhi draws upon this burgeoning corpus of liberal thought in India, his work is characterized by its typical impatience with ideas, and a method that combines random observation with apodictic statements. The Hind Swaraj resisted many of the impulses of Indian liberalism, even when thinking from within it, in its attempt to forge a politics of indigeneity.

Dilip M. Menon is the Mellon Chair in Indian Studies and the Director of the Centre for Indian Studies in Africa, University of Witwatersrand, South Africa. He works on the social and intellectual history of the colonial world and the global south. He is finishing a book on the writing of history in colonial India between 1860 and 1960.

This seminar series is organised with the support of the History Faculty.