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Atlantic Gandhi (The Mahatma Overseas)

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Back of the Book Learned and insightful, Nalini Natarajan, has written an amazing study of Gandhi which shows how transnational, planetary forces from the Caribbean, South Africa, and India were brought to bear on his concept of Indianness. His reading of Thoreau, Ruskin, and Tolstoy helped him form his conception of India as frugal, vegetarian, spiritual, adhering to ahimsa and satyagraha, and a style of anti-modernism which would lead to a very modern struggle of independence on the one...
Back of the Book

Learned and insightful, Nalini Natarajan, has written an amazing study of Gandhi which shows how transnational, planetary forces from the Caribbean, South Africa, and India were brought to bear on his concept of Indianness. His reading of Thoreau, Ruskin, and Tolstoy helped him form his conception of India as frugal, vegetarian, spiritual, adhering to ahimsa and satyagraha, and a style of anti-modernism which would lead to a very modern struggle of independence on the one hand, but separation from the struggles of Zulu in Africa and blacks in Guyana on the other hand. Call them coolie, subaltern, or proletarian, Gandhi's construction of the idea of 'India' arose in relation to, but not identity with, the workers of the barracks, the cane field, and the gold mine who produce in war, drugs, and money the defining experiences of modernity. Few will be able to read this book without serious reconsideration of Gandhi's cultural politics and political philosophy. Here is an oceanic Gandhi.

About the Book

Using the frames of diaspora theory, post-colonial discourse theory and the recent Atlantic turn in studies of resistance, this book brings into relief Gandhi's experience as a traveller moving from a classic colony, India, to the plantation and mining society of South Africa.

The author forwards the argument that this move between different modes of production brought Gandhi into contact with indentured labourers, with whom he shared exilic and diasporic consciousness, and whose difficult yet resilient lives inspired his philosophy. It reads Gandhi's nationalistic (that is, anti-colonial) sentiments as born in diasporic exile, where he formed his perspective as a provincial subject in a multiracial plantation.

The author's viewpoint has been inspired by the new analytic that has emerged in the last few decades: the Atlantic as an ocean that not just transported the victims of a greedy plantation system, but also saw the ferment of revolutionary ideas.

About the Author

Nalini Natarajan is a Professor at the English Department, College of Humanities, University of Puerto Rico in the US, where she has been teaching at since 1987.

Prior to this, she taught at Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi (1978-80) and Miranda House, Delhi (1984-86), and was a post-doctoral fellow at Yale University (1986-87). She obtained her Ph.D from University of Aberdeen, UK in 1984.

She has written a book titled Woman and Indian Modernity: Readings of Colonial and Postcolonial Novels in 2002, and edited Handbook of Twentieth Century Literatures of India in 1996, which received the Choice Outstanding Academic Book Award. She has also contributed articles in many other books.

Besides this book, she has also just completed a book published by Terranova Press, entitled 'The Resonating Island'-a series of intercultural essays on the Caribbean and South Asia.

Through her background and domicile, she combines an interest in India and its many regions, local languages and cultures, British domestic and imperial culture in the nineteenth century, feminist theory, and Caribbean and Latin American issues. She has proposed innovative courses in these areas.

Her interests are travel, memoir-writing, cooking and the pro-motion of popular forms of inter-cultural music and dance.

Preface

The title of my book' is likely to intrigue the reader because Mahatma Gandhi seldom sailed Atlantic seas.' But this book traces Gandhi's life as a cosmopolitan diasporic subject whose life abroad connects provocatively with the ferment of ideas around the Atlantic rim. My perspective has been inspired by the new analytic that has emerged in the last few decades: on the Atlantic as an ocean which transported not just the victims of a greedy plantation system, but also saw the ferment of revolutionary ideas. From Benedict Anderson's notions of exilic print that fomented new identities, through Paul Gilroy's arresting term 'Black Atlantic' to signify the global tricontinental interlinkings of Africa-derived cultural forms, to the tracking of a proletarian revolutionary Atlantic and worlds of subversion in Atlantic piracy in Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker, to the post-modern perspectives on the Atlantic world of Antonio Benitez-Rojo, this field of Atlantic studies has begun to acquire provocative and illuminating contours. I place Gandhi's diasporic oppositional thought within this frame.

Primarily, this frame highlights a socio-economic mode of production-the multiracial plantation that Gandhi, as a provincial subject in a British imperial colony, India, had not encountered until he docked at Durban in 1893. I argue that aspects of plantation life, and the events leading up to it, presented traumatic racial terror that Gandhi shared with the transplanted indentured 'coolies' from India and the struggle against which formed the basis of his activism. In his writings, the Autobiography, Hind Swaraj, Satyagraha in South Africa and countless letters, petitions, letters of protest, travel essays and other journalistic pieces, Gandhi's connection to the Atlantic history of subversion is explored.

Throughout the book, the focus is on Gandhi's status as a diaspore, an expatriate, an exile even (Gandhi was ‘outcasted' by the Modh Banias when he crossed the oceans for the first time). The book highlights his mobility, in trains, on ships. For instance, it was on a ship that he wrote Hind Swaraj in a flurry of feverish writing, switching to the use of his left hand when the right was tired. His writings reveal his diasporic construction of 'nationhood' as a culturally enabling construct quite distinct from the nation-state: his ashrams (farms) help construct the expatriate 'Indian' out of the seemingly deracinated and decultured, yet tenacious transplanted 'coolies' and the displaced Muslim merchants.

Chapter 1 'From Kathiawar' argues that Gandhi, the young student and voyager, was not yet 'Indian,' in any modern national sense, that he reflected instead a provincial Gujarati identity with strong filial elements.

Chapter 2 'Sailing the High Seas' tracks the beginning of Gandhi's diasporic consciousness in the sea voyages that take him first to England, then to South Africa. It delineates the globalized world he was stepping into, where millions of bodies and commodities traversed the oceans on newly steam-navigated ships.

Chapter 3 'Deconstructing the Coolie' offers a sense of the 'abject' international status of the migrant labourer from India at the point when Gandhi lands in Durban. This chapter allows one a sense of how great was the challenge posed by Gandhi in assisting these 'coo-lies' to a life less ruled by 'racial terror.'

Chapter 4 'Plotting a Diasporic Nation' accompanies Gandhi through the traumatic train rides through South Africa that cruelly emphasize his-and other Indians'-exclusion from the land to which many of them have been so forcibly brought. Through challenging racist geographies and policies, Gandhi plots a diasporic nation.

Chapter 5 'Local Cosmopolitan and Modern Anti-Modern: Hind Swaraj and Satyagraha in South Africa' tracks the oxymoronic ideologies that frame Gandhi's activism. He is both local and cosmopolitan, modern and anti-modern. The two texts are read as diasporic manifestos where he continues in his construction of the expatriate `Indian' in defiance of South Africa's discriminations and prejudices.

Chapter 6 'The Tamil Women of the Transvaal' looks at the Gandhian role in the making of the South African woman activist. It supplies a historical overview of the gendered history of indenture and explores the role of Gandhi's non-violent campaign to the empowering of women, while supplying a context for Gandhi's own sexual philosophy.

Chapter 7 'Gandhi and Atlantic Modernity' draws together the threads of Gandhian oppositional strategies and consciousness in the earlier chapters and places them in the context of Atlantic issues such as slave transplantation, separation from metropole, Euro-creole appropriations of Afro-indigenous subjectivities in the interest of building Creole nations, mestizaje (racial and cultural mixing) and its strengths as well as limitations and subaltern cultural survival. All of these are related to the Gandhian project.

Chapter 8 "'Prophet in Homespun": Deenabandhu C.F. Andrews' discusses Gandhi's chief associate in the anti-indenture campaign, another transplanted diaspore from the other side of the fence, Englishman C.F. Andrews, who took Gandhi's campaign to the Caribbean.

Chapter 9 'Conclusion: Diasporic Gandhi', the concluding chapter, provides a bird's eye view of the reverberations of Gandhi's life to theoretical frames of diaspora. It makes explicit debates about the experience of diaspora that underlie the whole book, concluding with Gandhi's politic and effective negotiation of his public and private selves to subversive effect, a tactic and skill, I argue, he developed as a diaspore. It also examines the notion of Gandhi as a `cosmopolitan from below'.

**Contents and Sample Pages**









Item Code: NAQ573 Author: Nalini Natarajan Cover: HARDCOVER Edition: 2013 Publisher: Sage Publications India Pvt. Ltd. ISBN: 9788132109686 Language: English Size: 9.00 X 5.50 inch Pages: 261 Other Details: Weight of the Book: 0.4 Kg
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