A conference at Johannesburg, 16–18 August 2009
The first meeting, held in Johannesburg at the WISER and the Centre for Indian Studies in Africa of the University of the Witwatersrand in August 2009, brought together scholars to reflect upon the text’s transnational dimensions in the context of the Indian and Atlantic Oceans. One aim of the meeting is to find a balance between the social circulation and inflection of Hind Swaraj, as a moving text, and of its multiple and evolving social, political and ethical refractions in several dispersed but linked public spheres. The meeting will also consider the way in which Gandhian principles have been invoked in African politics by statesmen like Nelson Mandela and Albert Lithulu; the tensions between violence and non-violence as therapeutic political forms played out in the work of Walter Benjamin and Frantz Fanon, for example; and the broad emphasis on Gandhi as a political philosopher and not just as a canny movement-builder.
Importantly, this Johannesburg discussion provides an opportunity to approach the Indian Ocean and its rim on South Africa’s eastern coast as a massive and active public sphere, anchored in a rich print culture of which Isabel Hofmeyr points out the Hind Swaraj text is one important case. While the Atlantic Ocean on South Africa’s western coast may have an equally rich circulating print culture, it has not seen the wide circulation of Gandhi’s text. Rather alternative critiques of modernity might have to be imagined in the form of what Claudio Lomnitz calls a Mex Swaraj. An ancillary of the Hind Swaraj project is an effort to digitize the print archives of political debate and journalism around the Indian Ocean rim in the twentieth century (and earlier).
- Ritu Birla, University of Toronto
- Keith Breckenridge, University of KwaZulu-Natal
- Faisal Devji, Oxford University
- Pamila Gupta, University of the Witwatersrand
- Jonathan Hyslop, University of the Witwatersrand
- Shruti Kapila, University of Cambridge
- Aishwary Kumar, Stanford University
- Achille Mbembe, University of the Witwatersrand
- Uday Singh Mehta, Amherst College
- Riason Naidoo, Iziko Musuems of Cape Town
- Crain Soudien, University of Cape Town