What time does Gandhi tell?

Authors: Rahul Rao*, SOAS University of London
Topics: Ethnicity and Race
Keywords: statues, Gandhi, memory, antiblackness, Dalit
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/10/2021
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM
Room: Virtual 30
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Statues exist simultaneously in multiple times – the time of the events or persons that they depict, the time in which they are built, the time in which they are viewed, and the future times that are projected onto them by viewers. Thinking about how meaning shifts between these times, or how these times might mean different things to different sets of people, can illuminate why statues become controversial at the times that they do. In this paper, I am interested in the rich and varied careers of Gandhi statues installed in places as different as Accra, Blantyre, Manchester and Fresno, CA. Following controversies over these statues allows me to trace, among other things, how Gandhi has gone from being a symbol of ahimsa to a synecdoche for antiblackness, savarna dominance and India's rising geopolitical power. More fundamentally, through this inquiry I hope to investigate what might be distinctive about statues as terrains of memory.

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