Spring 2010

Gandhi and King

Listed in: Black Studies, as BLST-65  |  Political Science, as POSC-95


Uday S. Mehta (Section 01)


(Offered as Black Studies 65 and Political Science 95 [US].) As the leader of the Indian independence struggle in the first half of the 20th century, M. K.Gandhi galvanized the marginalized and the voiceless in an epic struggle to gain recognition and freedom.  A student of Gandhi’s philosophy, Martin Luther King did much the same as the most important leader of the civil rights movement in the United States during the 1950s and 1960s.  Because they successfully mobilized millions of ordinary men and women to oppose imperialism and racism, these two figures epitomize the best possibilities of force directed toward democratic ends.  Nevertheless, they both expressed profound discomfort with politics. For example, each opposed violence as a matter of principle, celebrated individual interiority, and emphasized the importance of religious practice.  This seminar will explore the tension between the political influence of these important figures and their equally deep ambivalence towards politics.  Themes for discussion will include (1) the relationship between interiority and citizenship (2) the relationship between a care of the self and a conception of the self as the bearer of political rights (3) the role of imprisonment and freedom (4) nonviolence and its relationship to the individual and as an instrument for public advancement and (5) the relationship between technology and modernity.  This seminar will focus specifically on the writings of Gandhi and King, and less on the context and history of their times. Readings will include: Autobiography, The Story of My Experiments with Truth, Hind Swaraj, and Satyagragha in South Africa by M. K. Gandhi and A Testament of Hope: Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King Jr.  Requirements will include a five-page paper during the semester, a class presentation, and a 20-page paper due at the conclusion of the class.

Requisite: One course in either Political Science or Black Studies. Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Professors Ferguson and Mehta.

If Overenrolled: Once enrollment reaches 20, cut it off.


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2010