History | Gandhi
J400 | 7875 | Dodson


Above class open to majors only
Above class open to undergraduates only
J400: P-HIST J300

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi is rightly famous for his use of non-
violent resistance against British rule in India.  But in addition
to being the best known figure in India’s fight for independence, he
is also in many ways the most misunderstood.  He has, for example,
been called the “mahatma” (the “great soul”) and has been revered as
India’s greatest citizen (indeed, his face still graces Indian
currency notes).  Yet he has been viewed by some on the Hindu right
as a traitor to his own religion, and most famously, he was
dismissed by Winston Churchill as nothing more than a “naked
fakir”.  Gandhi’s strategies of non-violent resistance against
colonial oppression have been adapted by figures as diverse as
Martin Luther King, Vaclav Havel, and Nelson Mandela.  His legacy,
however, remains problematic by virtue of Gandhi’s views
on “untouchability”, his hostility to technology and Western
medicine, and the way in which he conceptualized the role of women
in society.

In this class we will examine in depth the thought of Mohandas
Gandhi on issues such as violence, religion, industrial development,
technology, and sexuality.  We will also examine the role of Gandhi
in the wider Indian independence struggle, as well as the ways in
which Gandhi’s thought has been adopted in other contexts.

Weekly class meetings will be based around a variety of readings,
including principally the writings of Gandhi himself.  Students will
be evaluated on the basis of written work, including a substantial
final research essay, as well as participation in class.