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Gandhi and the Politics of Indian Nationalism

HST 95, Summer 2010 Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, 5-8:30 Terrill 308 Prof. Abby McGowan Email: Tel: 656-3532 Office: 300 Wheeler House Office hours: Wednesday 1-4

What is nationalism? And what does nationalism mean in a country like India that is divided by geography, religion, caste, language and more? In this course we will explore how Mohandas K. Gandhi and others tried to answer those questions in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Examining the ties of education, idealism, religion, and anti-colonialism, we will look at how nationalists tried to forge a sense of unity among a heterogeneous and divided country; analyzing the deep fissures that eventually split British India into independent India and Pakistan in 1947, we will investigate what made a united India impossible. Throughout the course we will pay particular attention to the iconic figure of Mohandas Gandhi. Described variously as a saint, traitor, savior of the poor, or upper-caste oppressor, Gandhi personified the contradictions and problems of a national leader in a country like India. His life and goals will thus help us make sense of the politics of Indian nationalism during the colonial period. This course will be structured around a daily combination of both lecture and discussion, based on readings assigned for each class. Grades will be calculated on the basis of the following: Participation Four short (2 pages) papers (ea 7%) Midterm paper (5 pages) Final paper (5 pages) 32% 28% 20% 20%

NOTES ON REQUIREMENTS Participation: Your participation grade will be based on two things. First is your contribution to discussion. We have assigned readings for almost every class this session; your responsibility is to come to class prepared to talk actively about those readings. To do that, you must read the texts carefully and thoroughly, both with an eye to how the argument is presented within the text but also with an eye to how that text fits into the themes and topics of the course overall. The second thing your grade is based on is your attendance. You are expected to attend all classes. Since this is an abbreviated session, more than two absences of any kind (no matter what the excuse) will reduce your course participation grade by 5 points per extra day missed. Short papers: These papers are designed to get you thinking critically about the readings assigned for class; since they will form the basis of our discussions of assigned readings, be prepared for your papers to be shared with your fellow students. More broadly, the short papers address key elements you’ll need to deal with in your midterm and final papers, due at the middle and end of the session. As such, you can think of the short papers as drafts in which you can work out ideas for those longer assignments. To be successful in these short papers, you need to do three things. First, each paper must have a thesis that answers the question posed in 1

the assignment. Second, the paper must present detailed evidence from the readings to support your argument. And third, that evidence must be properly cited using Chicago style footnotes. This last is crucial: a failure to cite your information will result in a zero for the paper. Two further notes. First, since these papers are designed to help you get ideas on paper and work out your evidence, I will not be giving them extensive feedback. Rather, I will use a grading rubric indicating areas of success or weakness. Overall I will grade papers with only a check minus (roughly corresponding to a C), check (roughly corresponding to a B), and check plus (roughly corresponding to an A); papers that fail to meet the expectations at all (in terms of either not addressing the assigned question or not including adequately cited evidence) will receive a zero. Second, while there are five assigned short papers throughout the course, only four will count towards your final grade; I will drop the lowest grade. Long papers: The longer papers draw on a wider set of evidence than the shorter papers, and are designed to have you integrate diverse materials. In acknowledgement of their length and weight for your final grade, I will offer more extensive comments on them, and will give them more formal A/A-/B+/B/etc. grades. Here too, citations are crucial: a failure to cite your information will result in a zero for the paper. Since it takes time to learn the expectations of each instructor, you are welcome to rewrite the first paper if you not satisfied with your initial grade. The rewrite would be due Thursday June 10th.

POLICIES AND EXPECTATIONS Required readings: There are no books assigned for this course; all required readings are available on Blackboard. PLEASE bring a copy of the readings assigned for class with you; we cannot have a discussion without everyone having a copy of the texts with them. You may bring them either on your computer or in hardcopy. Citations: All materials in your paper must be cited, using the Chicago Manual of Style. For advice on what to cite and how to cite it, see: Failure to cite will result in a zero for the assignment. Deadlines: All written work must be turned in at the assigned time, in class, on the day that it is due. Since the short papers are designed to prepare you for discussion, and to act as drafts towards your formal papers, I will not accept them after class at all. Period. No excuses, no exceptions. If you turn in your long papers late they will be penalized a full later grade per day that it is late. In other words, if you submit an A paper a day late, it will now be B paper. If it is two days late, it will be a C. Academic Honesty: Please be advised that I take academic honesty seriously and personally, and will expect you to uphold the highest standards of honesty in this class. Plagiarism or other offenses against the university’s policies will result in an F for the class. We will discuss plagiarism in class, but for a full explanation of the university’s policies regarding academic honesty, see:


Special needs: I am happy to accommodate students with specific learning needs; please let me know if you are entitled by the university to special provisions or assistance.

SCHEDULE AND MAIN TOPICS Week One: Nationalism May 25: Introduction and overview May 26: Nationalism: ideologies John Stuart Mill, “Considerations on Representative Government,” in Nations and Identities ed. V. Pecora (Oxford: Blackwell 2001), 142-148 Ernst Renan, “What is a Nation?” in Nations and Identities, 162-176 V. I. Lenin, “The Right of Nations to Self-Determination,” in Nations and Identities, 220-228 First informal paper due: In two pages or less, and using at least two of the three readings, address one of the following two questions: What are the defining features of a nation? What kind of political form should a nation have, and why? May 27: Nationalism in India: challenges and possibilities No reading for this day

Week Two: Colonial India and the problem of unity June 1: A brief history of colonial rule Hermann Kulke & Dietmar Rothermand, A History of India (NY: Routledge, 2004), 196-243 Second short paper due: In two pages or less, answer the following question: Why were the British able to gain control over so much of India by the end of the 18th century? June 2: Living under the Raj: reform of society Rammohun Roy, in Sources of Indian Tradition, ed. Stephen Hay (New York: Columbia University Press, 1988), 15-35. Dayananda Saraswati, in Sources of Indian Tradition, ed. Stephen Hay (New York: Columbia University Press, 1988), 52-62. Syed Ahmed Khan, in Sources of Indian Tradition, ed. Stephen Hay (New York: Columbia University Press, 1988), 180-195. June 3: Living under the Raj: reform of the state Ainslee Embree, Defining a Nation (NY: Pearson, 2006), 91-132 Third short paper due: In two pages or less, answer the following question: In what ways did British rule make possible the growth of Indian nationalism?


Week Three: The nationalist agenda in India June 8: The rise of Gandhi: formative influences and vision for the nation MIDTERM FORMAL PAPER DUE: In 5 pages or less, answer the following question: Given the definitions of nationalism offered by Mill, Renan and Lenin, was India a nation by the end of the nineteenth century? In your answer discuss both the elements that bound Indians together as a nation and the challenges to national unity at that time. June 9: Gandhi’s innovations: tactics Dennis Dalton, Mahatma Gandhi: Nonviolent Power in Action, 1-62, 91-138 Mohandas Gandhi, selections on nonviolence in The Penguin Gandhi Reader, ed. Rudrangshu Mukherjee (NY: Penguin, 1993), 95-115 June 10: Gandhi’s opponents: Ambedkar, Jinnah, Bhagat Singh B. R. Ambedkar, “Caste, Class and Democracy” and “Gandhism” in The Essential Writings of B. R. Ambedkar, Valerian Rodrigues, ed. (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2002): 132-172 Fourth short paper due: In two pages or less, answer the following question: What was Ambedkar’s main critique of Gandhi?

Week Four: The nation triumphs, the nation unravels June 15: NO CLASS: INSTRUCTOR AT A CONFERENCE June 16: Gandhi’s opponents: Nehru and Savarkar Jawaharlal Nehru, The Discovery of India, 1-38, 49-68 V. R. Savarkar, Hindutva, pp. 1-13, 42-46, 115-116, 131-141 Fifth short paper due: In two pages or less, answer ONE of the following questions: 1. How did Nehru’s vision of India differ from Gandhi’s? 2. How did Savarkar’s vision of India differ from Gandhi’s? June 17: Transition to an independent India FINAL PAPER DUE IN CLASS: In five pages or less, do the following: Write a letter to the Indian National Congress, as if you were either Gandhi himself or one of his key supporters, explaining why your vision for India’s future is superior to those offered by Ambedkar, Nehru and Savarkar.