SOAS University of London

Department of History, School of History, Religions & Philosophies

Gandhi and the Lessons of Chauri Chaura

Prof Karuna Mantena (Yale)

Date: 27 May 2014Time: 5:00 PM

Finishes: 27 May 2014Time: 6:30 PM

Venue: Brunei Gallery Room: B104

Type of Event: Seminar

Gandhi’s suspension of civil disobedience after the outbreak of violence at Chauri Chaura was a defining moment of his  political career; no other decision has been so roundly condemned or remained so controversial.  To his severest critics, then and now, the suspension of Non-Cooperation is taken as a sign of an overriding (and arbitrary) moralism at the heart of Gandhian politics: a concern for ethical exhortation and rectitude at the expense of political judgement.   It was also the crucial moment in which Gandhi confronts the hazards and possibilities of mass action.  In this talk, I explore Gandhi’s assessment of Chauri Chaura, how he responded to his critics, and how it changed his political thinking and practice.  I argue that Chauri Chaura marks a pivotal moment in Gandhi’s understanding of and critique of political violence and the forms of nonviolent action that could answer and mitigate it.

Organiser: Dr Roy Fischel and Dr Shabnum Tejani