Robert A. Jones '59 Conference Room
148 Hillcrest Road
Middlebury, VT 05753
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The Rohatyn Center for Global Affairs program on Global and International History presents Aparna Kapadia, associate professor of history at Williams College and ” Walking with the Mahatma: Kasturba Gandhi’s Political Life.”

In May 1882, in the small Indian coastal town of Porbandar, thirteen-year-old Kastur (later Kasturba) was married—as was customary at the time—to a boy from her same caste. The groom, Mohandas, was a family friend’s son and a few months younger than his bride. The couple would remain married for sixty-two years, until Kastur’s death in 1944. During those six decades, Mohandas developed satyagraha, the Gandhian mode of non-violent civil disobedience that defined India’s struggle against British colonialism. Gandhi inspired millions to take to the streets peacefully in campaigns that lasted months at a time; he became one of the best-known figures in the world. Yet he did not do so alone. Kasturba was with him every step of the way. Why then do we know so little about her? And what did it mean to be married to a Mahatma, or Great Soul? This talk investigates Kasturba’s life and work in the context of the Gandhian movement. It contends that without considering Kasturba we cannot fully understand the Gandhian strategy of expanding mass participation in India’s anti-colonial campaigns. Nor can we unpack the intrinsic contradictions of Gandhian gender politics, which embraced the potential of women and yet finally restricted them to traditional roles.

Aparna Kapadia is a social historian of early modern and modern South Asia and associate professor of History at Williams College. Her research focuses on western Indian regional cultures, identities, and power structures as well as the subcontinent’s links with the Indian Ocean networks. She is the author of In Praise of Kings: Rajputs, Sultans and Poets in Fifteenth-Century Gujarat (Cambridge University Press, 2018) and co-editor of The Idea of Gujarat: History, Ethnography and Text (Orient Blackswan, 2010). Kapadia has published several peer reviewed articles in academic journals including The Mediaeval History Journal and The Journal of Asian Studies. She also serves as Associate Editor at The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society. Kapadia enjoys writing for popular audiences. Since 2019, she has published a column on a variety of topics in South Asian history entitled Off Centre in, one of India’s leading independent English-language digital publications. She is currently working on a new book on the life of the Indian political activist and Mahatma Gandhi’s spouse, Kasturba Gandhi (1869-1944).

In person in the Robert A. Jones 59’ Conference Room. For more information, please click here.

Co-sponsored by the Academic Enrichment Fund, Feminist Resource Center, History Department, Humanities Center and IGS South Asian Studies.

Sponsored by:
Rohatyn Center for Global Affairs; History; Axinn Center for the Humanities; South Asian Studies; International & Global Studies; Gender, Sexuality, & Fem Studies

Contact Organizer

DeFoor, Margaret
(802) 443-5324