Inter-Asia Cultural Studies Society Summer School – Gandhi and Maoism
Speaker: Chih-Ming Wang
Date: 4th July (Inter-Asia Cultural Studies Society Summer School)
Chih-Ming Wang addresses two main problematics in his presentation. The first one is the problematic of modernity, and he tries to find the question to how can India experience modernity, especially in its relation to British colonialism, and how after independence a nation can still be interdependent in the realm economy with the former colonial master. Secondly, he focuses on the idea of India. The author went once to India and found out that in order to go do it a foreigner requires a lot of preparation, due to the amount of different languages and different cultures in the country. Only in this way we can study and comprehend the complex situation of India.
The author focus then about the image of Gandhi. There speech turns around the practices of nonviolence and non-cooperation introduced by Gandhi and how they can resonate in current social movements. For Chih-Ming, the value of Gandhi goes beyond India. We think about resisting as acting, but Gandhi emphasizes passive resistance. He asks himself how is that possible and comments into Gandhi’s ideas and actions.
India was once “one nation”, but in 1905 British plans for the partition of Indian changed the statu-quo: it had implications in national sentiments and independence.
Gandhi’s went to make salt to the Ocean side as a form of social demonstration against the oppression. The act of making salt by hand shows the idea of self reliance, survival in “our own terms”. So we can also run the government by ourselves, we do not need to be ruled by the colonials masters. He then discusses with the audience about the image of Gandhi and what it means to them. For him, Gandhi, in a photo that he showed, looks like suffering peacefully, suffering as a weapon.
TThe technology was an important element in Gandhi’s thinking, precisely because technology is equated with modernity. Similarly, the Internet can help us to engage with the social movements in a easier way than the generation of Gandhi could.
During the independence struggle, the younger generation of Indians wanted more revolution, with violence, but for Gandhi, it was a weakness. As a weakness, he also talks about the tendency to demonize the other. Gandhi prevent us from using that other kind of indirect violence.