Patrick French, Dean, School of Arts and Sciences, Ahmedabad University
The formation of Mohandas Gandhi’s adult political ideas took place outside India, first in the United Kingdom, but primarily in the unusual structural social formation of South Africa. His readjustment to India after his return there during World War One happened in the setting of the textile city of Ahmedabad, where he established an ashram. What can this tell us about his attitude to social living in India, to political innovation, to his perceptions of money, his approaches to the differences of caste, and responses to sickness? By looking at Gandhi’s own writings from around this time, what can we see about his ways of perceiving the world? His switch into a new ‘old’ world took place in the context both of a global war and a ‘Spanish Flu’ pandemic that hit India particularly hard. How was his return to India linked into the development of his political and social ideas during this period, in a society that was in some respects alien to him? Using Gandhi’s words and writings, and later textual and visual imagery, this paper places him in a global and local context in which he was subsequently framed, and which seems inseparable from our public remembrance of him.
Co-sponsored with the Dehli Center