Nonviolent Resistance a global History 1830-2000

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Week 8. Gandhi in India.

This week we shall examine how Gandhi transferred his technique of satyagraha to India after his return there in 1915. His first Indian satyagraha was in Champaran in 1917, followed by two in 1918 in Kheda and Ahmedabad. The Rowlatt Satyagraha of 1919 led to considerable violence, both by and against the protestors, and it culminated in the Amritsar massacre. In the following year, Gandhi launched the Non Co-operation movement, in which he had a strong emphasis on highly disciplined protest. He was accused by his critics of reigning in the protests of the masses excessively, and thus undermining the potential success of the movement. This was called off in 1922, and Gandhi was jailed. Later, after his release, he supported a highly successful satyagraha in Bardoli in 1928, and in 1930 launched the Civil Disobedience Movement, in which his first act was to break the salt laws. The presentation will focus on the years 1915-22. A DVD on the Civil Disobedience movement of 1930-31 will be shown, followed by a critical discussion of the overall role of Gandhi’s movement in gaining independence for India in 1947.

Core reading

  • Either Peter Ackerman and Christopher Kruegler, Strategic Nonviolent Conflict: The Dynamics of People Power in the Twentieth Century, chapter 5, pp.157-211.

  • Or Peter Ackerman and Jack DuVall, A Force More Powerful: A Century of Nonviolent Conflict, chapter 2, pp.61-111.

Questions for discussion:

  • How did Gandhi first apply his technique in India, and how successfully did he do it?

  • How did Gandhi modify his strategy after the violence of the Rowlatt satyagraha of 1919?

  • Gandhi’s insistence on nonviolence.  Did it hinder the Indian nationalist movement in 1920-22?

  • Did Gandhi make a mistake in calling off the movements in 1922 and again in 1931 before any positive concessions had been gained from the British? Does this reveal a fundamental flaw in his approach?

  • How important was Gandhi’s nonviolent resistance in winning independence for India in 1947?

Further reading:

  • Carol Becker, ‘Gandhi’s Body and Further Representations of War and Peace’, Art Journal, Vol. 65, No. 4, Winter 2006, pp. 76-95.

  • J. Bondurant, The Conquest of Violence, pp.88-102, for Civil Disobedience 1930-31. There is an extract from this book in Robert L. Holmes and Barry L. Gan, Nonviolence in Theory and Practice, pp. 85-94.

  • Judith Brown, ‘Gandhi and Civil Resistance in India, 1917-47; Key Issues’, in Adam Roberts and Timothy Garton Ash (eds.), Civil Resistance and Power Politics

  • Judith Brown, ‘Gandhi as Nationalist Leader, 1915-1948’, in Judith M. Brown and Anthony Parel (eds.), The Cambridge Companion to Gandhi

  • Dennis Dalton, Mahatma Gandhi: Nonviolent Power in Action

  • D. Dhanagare, Peasant Movements in India

  • D. Hardiman, Peasant Nationalists of Gujarat: Kheda District 1917-34

  • Peter Heehs, The Bomb in Bengal: The Rise of Revolutionary terrorism in India 1900-1910 For the violent alternative to Gandhi

  • Peter Heehs, Nationalism, Terrorism, Communalism: Essays in Modern Indian History. For the violent alternative to Gandhi

  • Peter Heehs, Sri Aurobindo: A Biography.

  • Peter Heehs, ‘Terrorism in India during the Freedom Struggle’, Historian, Vol. 55, No. 3, 1993, pp. 469-82.

  • Francis Hutchins, India’s Revolution: Gandhi and the Quit India Movement (Cambridge 1973).

  • R. Guha, ‘Discipline and Mobilise’, in P. Chatterjee and G. Pandey (eds.), Subaltern Studies VII on Gandhi’s relationship with the masses in 1920-22 period.

  • Anil Kumar Gupta, ‘Defying Death: Nationalist Revolutionism in India, 1897-1938’, Social Scientist, vol. 25, 1997.

  • Amit Kumar Gupta, ‘Anti-imperialist Armed Struggle: An Assessment’, Social Scientist, Vol. 28, 2000.

  • Leonard Gordon, Bengal: the Nationalist Movement 1876-1940 (New York, 1974).

  • Leonard Gordon, Brothers against the Raj: a Biography of Sarat and subhas Chandra Bose (New Delhi 1990).

  • G. Krishna, ‘Development of Congress as a Mass Organization’, Journal of Asian Studies, 25:3, 1966. Shows how Gandhi changed the constitution and organisation of the Congress radically in 1920.

  • R. Kumar (ed.), Essays on Gandhian Politics: The Rowlatt Satyagraha of 1919. Classic series of articles on the Rowlatt Satyagraha.

  • R. Kumar, ‘Class, Community or Nation? Gandhi’s Quest for a Popular Consensus in India’, Modern Asian Studies, 1969, no.4. Also in R. Kumar, Essays in the Social History of Modern India

  • Joseph Kupfer, ‘Gandhi and the Virtue of Care’, Hypatia, Vol. 22, No. 3, Summer 2007, pp. 7-21.

  • S.K. Mittal and Irfan Habib, ‘The Congress and the Revolutionaries in the 1920s’, Social Scientist, Vol. 10, 1982.

  • Hugh Owen, ‘Towards Nationwide Agitation and Organisation: the Home Rule Leagues 1915-18’, in D.A. Low, Soundings in Modern South Asian History.

  • Bob Overy, ‘Gandhi as a Political Organiser’, in Michael Randle (ed.), Challenge to Nonviolence

  • Howard Ryan, Critique of Nonviolent Politics, available online at: for a strong critique of Gandhian nonviolence and its role in gaining independence for India.

  • Sumit Sarkar, Modern India 1885-1947

Week 9. Gandhi’s influence in South Asia and the World

This week we shall begin by examining the movement led by Abdul Ghaffar Khan – known as the Khudai Khidmatgars – in the Northwest Frontier Province of India in the 1920s and 1930s. Here, the Gandhian method was adapted in an Islamic manner to powerful effect. Islam is based on a notion of ‘peace’ – something often forgotten today – and is by no means incompatible with nonviolence. In the second half of the seminar we shall examine how Gandhi’s method attracted a global audience from around 1930 onwards.

Core reading

  • Robert C. Johansen, ‘ Radical Islam and Nonviolence: A Case Study of Religious Empowerment and Constraint among Pashtuns,’ Journal of Peace Research, Vol. 34, No. 1, 53-71 (1997)

  • David Hardiman, Gandhi in His Time and Ours (London 2004), pp. 238-57

Questions for discussion:

  • How did Abdul Ghaffar Khan deploy Islam in his nonviolent movement?

  • What did the Muslims of the North West Frontier Province contribute to the Indian nationalist movement?

  • Why did Abdul Ghaffar Khan’s fail to become an iconic figure in the Muslim world? Can you suggest any alternative models of nonviolent resistance that might be more appealing in the Islamic world today?

  • Why did pacifists in the West embrace Gandhi in the 1930s, and were they right to do so?

  • To what extent did Gandhian nonviolence strike a chord in the West – particularly in Europe and the USA?

Further Reading:

Islam (general)

  • Abu-Nimar, M., ‘A Framework for Nonviolence and Peacebuilding in Islam’, Journal of Law and Religion, Vo. 15, No. 1/2, 2000-2001.

  • Abu-Nimer, Mohammad, Nonviolence and Peace Building in Islam, University Press of Florida, Gainseville, 2003.

  • Robert L. Holmes and Barry L. Gan, Nonviolence in Theory and Practice, pp.36-40

  • Noor Mohamed, ‘The Doctrine of Jihad: An Introduction’, Journal of Law and Religion, Vol. 3, No. 2, 1985, pp. 381-97.

  • Scott Kennedy, ‘The Druze of the Golan: A Case Study of Non-Violent Resistance, Journal of Palestinian Studies, Vol. 13, No. 2, Winter 1984.

  • Kurlansky, Nonviolence, pp.33-37.

  • Michael Nagler, ‘Is there a tradition of nonviolence in Islam?’ in J. Patour Burns (ed.), War and its Discontents: Pacifism and Quietism in the Abrahamic Tradition, Georgetown University Press, Washington DC, 1996.

  • Glenn D. Paige, Chaiwat Satha-Anand and Sara Gilliatt (eds.), Islam and Nonviolence, full text at:

  • See the following websites: &

The Khudai Khitmatgars

  • Aijaz Ahmad, ‘Frontier Gandhi: Reflections on Muslim Nationalism in India’, Social Scientist, Vol. 33, Nos. 1/2, Jan-Feb 2005, pp. 22-39.

  • Mukulika Banerjee, The Pathan Unarmed: Opposition and Memory in the North West Frontier (New Delhi 2001).

  • Joan V. Bondurant, Conquest of Violence: The Gandhian Philosophy of Conflict, Princeton University Press, Princeton 1958, pp.131-44.

  • Eknath Easwaran, Nonviolent Soldiers of Islam: Badshah Khan, a Man to Match his Mountains (Petaluma, CA, 1999).

  • Tim Flinders, ‘A Muslim Gandhi? Badshah Khan and the world’s first non-violent army’, Peace Power, Summer 2005.

  • Irfan Habib, ‘Civil Disobedience 1930-31’, Social Scientist, Vol. 25, Nos. 9/10, Sept-Oct. 1997, pp. 43-66.

  • A.G. Khan, My Life and Struggle: The Autobiography of Badshah Khan, Hind Pocket Books, Delhi 1969.

  • M.S. Korejo, The Frontier Gandhi: His Place in History (Karachi 1993).

  • Karl E. Meyer, ‘The Invention of Pakistan: How the British Raj was Sundered’, World Policy Journal, Vol. 20, No. 1, 2003, pp. 77-92.

  • Amitabh Pal, ‘A pacifist uncovered’, The Progressive, Feb. 2002, (

  • Pyarelal, A Pilgrimage for Peace: Gandhi and the Frontier Gandhi among N.W.F. Pathans, Navajivan, Ahmedabad 1950.

  • Pyarelal, Thrown to the Wolves: Abdul Ghaffar, Eastlight Book House, Calcutta 1966.

  • Mohammad Raqib, ‘The Muslim Pashtun Movement of the North-West Frontier of India – 1930-1934’, in Gene Sharp (ed.), Waging Nonviolent Struggle, 20th Century Practice and 21st Century Potential (Boston 2005), pp.113-34.

  • Dr. Sayed Wiqar Ali Shah, ‘Abdul Ghaffar Khan’ (courtesy of the Baacha Khan Trust), pp. 1-38.

  • James W. Spain, ‘The Pathan borderlands’, Middle East Journal, Vol. 15, No. 2, Spring 1961, pp.165-77.

  • D.G. Tendulkar, Abdul Ghaffar Khan: Faith is a Battle, Gandhi Peace Foundation, New Delhi 1967.

Gandhi’s global influence

  • Thomas Adam, Ch. 5, ‘Change through non-violence: The rationalisation of conflict solution’, Intercultural Transfers and the Making of the Modern World (Basingstoke 2012)

  • David Cortright, Gandhi and Beyond: Nonviolence for an Age of Terrorism (Boulder, 2006)

  • Richard Fox, Gandhian Utopia: Experiments with Culture (Ann Arbor 1995)

  • Richard Gregg, The Power of Nonviolence (London 1935). The first book to develop a theory of nonviolent resistance based on Gandhi’s practice.

  • David Hardiman, ‘Gandhi’s Global Legacy’, in Judith M. Brown and Anthony Parel (eds.), The Cambridge Companion to Gandhi

  • Sudarshan Kapur, Raising up a Prophet: The African-American Encounter with Gandhi (Boston 1992)

  • Joseph Kip Kosek, ‘Richard Gregg, Mohandas Gandhi, and the Strategy of Nonviolence’, The Journal of American History, 91:4, March 2005

  • Joseph Kip Kosek, Acts of Conscience: Christian Nonviolence and Modern American Democracy (New York 2011)

  • Claude Markovits, The Un-Gandhian Gandhi: The Life and Afterlife of the Mahatma (London 2003)

  • M. Randle, Civil Resistance, Ch. 3. ‘Satyagraha to People Power’

  • Sean Scalmer, Gandhi in the West: The Mahatma and the Rise of Radical Protest (New York 2011)

  • Krishnalal Shridharani, War without Violence: A Study of Gandhi’s Method and its Accomplishment (London 1939)

  • Thomas Weber, Gandhi, Gandhism and the Gandhians (New Delhi 2006)

  • Thomas Weber, ‘Gandhian Non-violence and its critics’ (2007),

  • G. Woodcock, Gandhi (London 1972), Ch. 9.

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