Who is Gandhi's neighbour?


Who is Gandhi's neighbour?


Professor Ajay Skaria

(This webinar is organised as a part of KCHR's ongoing series commemorating the 75th year of Indian independence.)


Date & Time : 28th March, 2022, Monday, 7.30 PM (IST)


Recorded Video



About the Speaker: KCHR Professor Ajay Skaria studied Political Science and History at Maharaja Sayajirao University, Vadodara, during which period he also worked as a journalist for Indian Express. He received his PhD in History from Trinity College, Cambridge, and currently teaches at the University of Minnesota. A member of the Subaltern Studies editorial collective from 1995 till its dissolution, he is one of the co-editors of Subaltern Studies Vol. XII, and the author of Hybrid Histories: Forests, Frontiers and Wildness in Western India (1999) and Unconditional Equality: Gandhi’s Religion of Resistance (2016). He is currently working on two books, one on political friendship, and the other on political democracy. 

Abstract: As Gandhi comes to be increasingly influential in the movement for Indian independence, one word surges to prominence in his vocabulary—swadeshi. While the word was scarcely new, Gandhi gives it a distinctive twist--for him, it is the aspiration to what he calls a ‘non-violent nationalism.’ Thinking especially but not exclusively with Gandhi, this essay explores the stakes of “nonviolent nationalism” both in his times and ours. It suggests that what most characterises such a nationalism is a skeptical though not antagonistic relation with the nation-state, as with the sovereignty-centred liberty that the citizens of such a nation-state exercise--a liberty centred around rights and duties. Instead, nonviolent nationalism involves what could be called a political friendship, or, more specifically, a democratic neighbourliness: a conception of place centred around the equality of neighbours. The paper tracks how Gandhi conceptualises the figure of the neighbour and explores the relation of this neighbourliness with the nation-state.