Gandhi and Indian Nationalism

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and Indian Nationalism

gandhi 1932

Module number HI 161
2012-13Gandhi and Indian Nationalism
(Code: HI 161)

Lecturer: David Hardiman

Room 308. Tel: 72584


Tutor: Malik Hammad Ahmad

All the details in this handout can be found also on the Internet on:

This is updated constantly and will contain additions made since the start of the year.


There will be a one-hour lecture by David Hardiman each week for the duration of this course, on Thursdays 10-11 in room S 0.11 (Social Studies). There will be weekly one-hour seminars after the lecture in room H 1.02 taken by Hammad Malik. There will be two separate groups, from 12-1 and from 1-2. The groups will be arranged after the introductory session in Week 1, and will be announced at the first lecture in Week 2. Seminars are compulsory, and students are expected to come to the seminars well prepared to contribute to the discussion. Unavoidable absence should be explained before the seminar, or as soon as possible afterwards.

Weekly lectures topics:

Term One

  1. Introductory session – 15 minutes on Friday 5 Oct. at 11.0 am in room H 303

  2. Introduction: British conquest of India and consolidation of rule. (Lecture at 10 a.m. in room S 0.11 on Wednesdays for this and all other lectures)

  3. British Attitudes to India.

  4. Indian nationalism and popular protest, 1885-1914.

  5. Gandhi’s early life 1869-1890: upbringing in the Indian princely states, training in London, return to India, South Africa.

  6. Reading week

  7. Gandhi’s nationalism, Hind Swaraj and the critique of ‘modern civilization’

  8. Gandhi’s return to India, Champaran, Kheda and Ahmedabad 1915-18

  9. From Amritsar to Non-cooperation 1919-22

  10. The Peasantry and Indian Nationalism

Term Two

  1. The 1920s, the Salt March and Civil Disobedience 1930-31

  2. Gandhi, Ambedkar and the Untouchables.

  3. Gandhi, Capitalists, and the Working Classes.

  4. Gandhi and Women.

  5. The Emergence of Hindu Nationalism and Muslim Separatism in India

  6. Reading week.

  7. 1932-1945

  8. The Muslim League and the Run-up to Partition

  9. The Partition and Gandhi’s Final Year.

  10. Gandhi beyond India

Term Three

No lectures or seminars, except for one exam preparation session (in Room SO11).


You are required to attend all seminars. If unable to attend for a legitimate reason, you should send an email to your tutor with an explanation. You should carry out all the listed seminar reading and come prepared to participate in the discussion. For certain seminars, you will be given a reading from a primary source (a ‘gobbet’) and asked to comment on this. The reading and interpretation of such primary sources is one essential skill required of historians, so that this will provide training and practice in this skill. All of the gobbets that might be used are on the module website, and you should read through gobbets relating to the weekly seminar in advance. Some points to consider in reading and commenting on gobbets are listed below.


Some points to consider (they may not be relevant in every case).

What is the social position, role etc of the person who has produced this document?

What sort of document is it? E.g. is it an official report, a speech, a commentary in the press or a journal, a book, a song etc.?

In what circumstances was it produced? Was it at the time of an event, soon after it, or long after? (On this: see Ranajit Guha, ‘The Prose of Counter Insurgency,’ in Subaltern Studies II.)

From what ideological standpoint was it produced?

What sort of appeal is made? Is it to reason, emotion, patriotism, honour etc.?

How is the point argued?

What are the strengths and weaknesses of the argument?

What sense of history is revealed?

What sort of future does it anticipate?

Weekly seminar programmes and reading

(Note: further reading on all these topics is found under topic headings in the full reading list.)

Week 2: Introducing the Module

No set reading this week, but use the opportunity to start reading the two main textbooks by Stein and Arnold, as well as Gandhi’s autobiography.

Week 3: British Rule in India

Reading: B. Stein, A History of India, Chapter 6: ‘The Crown Replaces the Company,’ pp.239-83. Chapter 7, ‘Towards Freedom,’ pp.284-98.

Leading questions:

  • Was British rule beneficial for India? (For example, in terms of economic progress, education, religion, administration, the environment, for human rights, women’s rights etc.)

  • What was the British colonial understanding of (a) Indian people, (b) British themselves? Were there certain Indian groups that were categorised differently? Were there justifications for these views?

Week 4: Early Nationalism


B. Stein, A History of India, Chapter 7, ‘Towards Freedom,’ pp.284-98.

P. Chatterjee, ‘The Nation and Its Fragments, ‘ Chapter 4, ‘The Nation and Its Pasts,’ pp. 76-94.

Leading questions:

  • To what extent was India a ‘nation’ in the precolonial period? Or, was the ‘Indian nation’ a construction of British rule?

  • How did nationalist tactics change between 1885 and 1914?

  • Was the Swadeshi movement in Bengal more than just a regional movement?

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