Aishwary Kumar | Can the People Rule? Gandhi, Dignity, and Resentment: Celebrating the 150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi

Lecture | November 12 | 5-7 p.m. | 10 Stephens Hall

 Aishwary Kumar, Visiting Professor of Political Theory and Intellectual History, Department of History of Consciousness at UC-Santa Cruz

 Munis Faruqui, Director, Institute for South Asia Studies; Sarah Kailath Professor of India Studies; Associate Professor in the Department of South and Southeast Asian Studies

 Institute for South Asia Studies, Sarah Kailath Chair of India Studies, Center for British Studies, Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Center for Initiative on Political Conflict, Gender and People's Rights Race and Gender

A talk by political theorist and intellectual historian of South Asia, empire, and the Global South, Professor Aishwary Kumar.

Gandhi’s politics of satyagraha— passive resistance — was distinctively at odds with his times. In a world beset by fear and inequality, his critique of violence and humiliation remains compelling. Yet, Gandhi also privileged obedience, office, and sacrifice as routes to moral selfhood, and even to political freedom. In this lecture, we examine Gandhi's troubled relationship with human freedom and dignity, retracing his encounter with figures in revolutionary political thought — Marx, Arendt, and Ambedkar —as a lens to understand the degeneration of democracy in our time. Does Gandhi today give us, we ask, an insight into the ressentiment of the people against the very idea — democracy — that was once conceived to let them rule themselves?

Speaker Bio
Aishwary Kumar is an intellectual historian and political theorist with interests in South Asian, European, and American political thought. His work spans a wide spectrum of issues in moral and political philosophy, political justice and constitutional theory, war and ethics, empire and liberalism, and the history of democratic thought and rights.

Kumar’s first book, Radical Equality: Ambedkar, Gandhi, and the Risk of Democracy (Stanford University Press, 2015), was listed by The Indian Express as one of the fifteen most important works on politics, morality, and law to be published anywhere that year. His essays have appeared in Modern Intellectual History, Contemporary South Asia, Social History, and Public Culture, among other places. He has also been featured on the radio shows Entitled Opinions and Philosophy Talk.

Kumar is currently working on two books. The first, The Sovereign Void: Ambedkar’s Critique of Violence, examines the genealogies of political freedom and war in Southern and Atlantic political thought and their relation to notions of “force” across epistemological, theological, and secular traditions. The second, The Gravity of Truth: Disenchantment, Disappointment, and Democracy, takes the Obama Presidency as its starting point to explore the place of moral agency and political judgment in the global constitutional imagination.

Kumar is a senior fellow in Human Rights, Constitutional Politics, and Religious Diversity at the Lichtenberg Kolleg—Göttingen Institute of Advanced Study, Germany, and a visiting fellow at the Institute of Human Sciences (IWM) in Vienna, Austria. He has previously held fellowships in Europe and the United Kingdom. He earned his doctorate in History at Trinity College, University of Cambridge in 2007.

Read more about Prof. Kumar HERE

Event made possible with the support of the Sarah Kailath Chair of India Studies

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The event is FREE and OPEN to the public., 510-642-3608