Humanities Research Centre, ANU
Call for papers
Gandhi, Non-Violence and Modernity
Convenors: John Docker and Debjani Ganguly
The Humanities Research Centre of the Australian National University invites offers of papers for the interdisciplinary symposium "Gandhi, Non-Violence and Modernity", to be held at the Old Canberra House, ANU on 24-25 September 2004. It is one of the key events marking HRC’s 2004 focus on Asia and the Pacific.
The keynote speaker for the conference will be Dr. Leela Gandhi, La Trobe University, Melbourne
Gandhi is, without doubt, one of the most intriguing political figures of modernity. His mode of passive, non-violent resistance against the mightiest of modern empires is the stuff of legends now. Seen alternately as a maverick, though wily, politician and a great visionary with impeccable ethics, Gandhi has continued to inspire, puzzle, exasperate, activate and enlighten countless ordinary and not so ordinary people around the globe. In recent years, his lived philosophy of ahimsa (non-violence, preserving the sanctity of life) has resonated with particular force in the minds and hearts of those who have been aghast at the widespread carnage they have witnessed in the names of God and Nation.
Among other things, the present symposium is an attempt to explore the viability of a transcultural non-violent ethics of the everyday. It hopes to do so by examining the relevance of Gandhian ahimsa in these violent times when religious fundamentalisms of various kinds are competing with the arrogance and unilateralism of imperial capital to reduce the world to a state of international lawlessness.
In order to widen the basis for discussion, we see this symposium as focussing not only on the specifics of Gandhian thought, but also on the global impact of Gandhi in the latter half of the twentieth century and into the new millennium. This impact ranges from the activism of Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela to New Age concerns such as the Green Movement and vegetarianism. In the context of South Asian and postcolonial studies post-1970s, there has been a rejuvenation of Gandhian scholarship with cultural/subaltern historians, political theorists and postcolonial scholars such as Ashis Nandy, Shahid Amin, Dipesh Chakrabarty, Partha Chatterjee and Robert Young producing important work on Gandhi's critique of high modernity and development-oriented Third World nationalisms. We hope to continue this dialogue between Gandhi and (post)modernity.
Symposium themes include the following:
Non-violent movements in the twentieth century - from Martin Luther King and civil rights in the US to Mandela in South Africa to the 1965 Freedom Ride in Australia
Gandhi's critique of colonialism and capitalist modernity
Gandhi and New Age concerns
Contemporary crisis of peace movements
Gandhi in the context of studies of the (South Asian) diaspora - Gandhi's formative years as a lawyer and activist on his Tolstoy Farm; the importance of his diasporic experience in forging his unique mode of non-violent protest that transcended the nationalist thematic.
Late modern religious fundamentalisms vis-à-vis Gandhian attempts to globalize non-violence
Gandhi among Marxists and dalits
Gandhi, gender, and sexuality
Imagining Gandhi(s) – literary and mythographic representations of the Gandhian figure; Gandhi as conceptual persona or thought figure
The impact of European and American thought on Gandhi - Gandhi has been known to be a voracious reader of Ruskin, Thoreau, Tolstoy, Edward Carpenter and the Christian gospels and drew a lot from their thought and teachings to refine his own outlook and theories; the influence of the suffragette movement on him has also been marked by a few scholars.
In order to maximize discussion and debate, every session of the symposium will be a plenary session. There will no concurrent or parallel sessions. Each paper will have a maximum duration of thirty minutes.
Please send a title, abstract (500-800 words) and a short bio-note by 31 October 2003.
Offers of papers are to be sent to Debjani.Ganguly@anu.edu OR John.Docker@anu.edu.au
Debjani Ganguly is Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Centre for Cross-Cultural Research, ANU and John Docker is Visiting Fellow at the Humanities Research Centre, ANU
Possibility of publication of papers: preliminary discussions have taken place with Tony Burke, the editor of borderlands e-journal, concerning the possibility of publication of the papers in his journal. He has expressed keen interest. We will finalise talks with him closer to the conference.
Possible associated event: an art exhibition on Gandhi or Gandhian themes by the Indian artist Vivan Suderin.
Enquiries: Leena Messina, Programs Officer, Humanities Research Centre, ANU
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