Monday, October 16, 2023

Please join the South Asian Studies Program, an International Programs affinity group, and the Department of Religious Studies, for a webinar entitled “Rethinking Equality, Neighborliness, and Dignity through Gandhi and Ambedkar: A Discussion with Ajay Skaria and Aishwary Kumar.” The webinar will take place via Zoom on Thursday, November 2, from 4 – 5:30 p.m. (CDT)

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar are key figures in the history of modern India who, in their very different ways, reshaped our conceptions of equality, democracy, dignity, and religion. In this webinar, Ajay Skaria (University of Minnesota) and Aishwary Kumar (California Polytechnic State University, Pomona) rethink their legacies by working through certain key concepts in their corpus and explore the implications of their thought in the contemporary moment. 

This webinar will feature two talks followed by a discussion.  

In his talk “Along the Way to Gandhi’s Neighbor,” Skaria will explore the figures of the friend and neighbor in Gandhi’s and Ambedkar’s works and examine how these thinkers question and rethink the categorical imperative of treating humanity in oneself and others as an end in itself, with a special focus on Gandhi’s transformative invocation of the concept of equality.  

In “After Kshatriyadharma: Gandhi and the Prehistory of Resentment,” Kumar will explore the place of ‘dignity’ in Gandhi’s theory of political action and particularly the attachment of sacrificial value to dignity, questioning how such a conceptual move relates to logics of moral cruelty that justify the oppression of the outcaste, the poor and the minor, and examining how dignity might be drawn into the vortex of modern political resentment. 

About the speakers: 

Ajay Skaria is a scholar of South Asian politics and history and currently a professor in the Department of History and the Institute for Global Studies at the University of Minnesota. He is the author of Unconditional Equality: Gandhi's Religion of Resistance (University of Minnesota Press, 2016). 
Aishwary Kumar is an intellectual historian and political theorist with interests in South Asian, European, and American political thought and an associate professor of history at California Polytechnic State University, Pomona. Kumar’s first book, Radical Equality: Ambedkar, Gandhi, and the Risk of Democracy (Stanford University Press, 2015), was listed by The Indian Express as one of the fifteen most important works on politics, morality, and law published that year. 

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa-sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact Daniel Vorwerk in advance at or 319-467-1619.


International Programs (IP) at the University of Iowa (UI) is committed to enriching the global experience of UI students, faculty, staff, and the general public by leading efforts to promote internationally oriented teaching, research, creative work, and community engagement.  IP provides support for international students and scholars, administers scholarships and assistance for students who study, intern, or do research abroad, and provides funding opportunities and grant-writing assistance for faculty engaged in international research. IP shares their stories through various media, and by hosting multiple public engagement activities each year.