Gandhi's Hind Swaraj is a seminal text setting out the Mahatma's key ideas on nonviolence and civil disobedience. The book takes the form of a dialogue between a Reader and an Editor discussing questions of how British India should best obtain home rule. Most scholarship on the book argues that the Reader is an Indian extremist who wants to oppose colonial rule by force, a position of which Gandhi disapproved. However, in early prefaces of the book, which have now largely disappeared from contemporary editions, Gandhi identifies “the Reader” as the reader of Indian Opinion, the newspaper he edited in South Africa, where he spent twenty-one years. This article asks what it means to reinstate this South African reader in Gandhi's seminal text. What implications would this diasporic reader have for Gandhi's thinking and ideas of Indian nationalism more generally? What might this “unlikely reader” in South Africa tell us about transnational ideas of reading and theories of transnationalism more broadly?
Isabel Hofmeyr; Violent Texts, Vulnerable Readers: Hind Swaraj and Its South African Audiences. Public Culture 1 May 2011; 23 (2): 285–297. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/08992363-1162039
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