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The non-violent protests of civil rights activists and anti-nuclear campaigners during the 1960s helped to redefine Western politics. But where did they come from? Sean Scalmer uncovers their history in an earlier generation's intense struggles to understand and emulate the activities of Mahatma Gandhi. He shows how Gandhi's non-violent protests were the subject of widespread discussion and debate in the USA and UK for several decades. Though at first misrepresented by Western newspapers, they were patiently described and clarified by a devoted group of cosmopolitan advocates. Small groups of Westerners experimented with Gandhian techniques in virtual anonymity and then, on the cusp of the 1960s, brought these methods to a wider audience. The swelling protests of later years increasingly abandoned the spirit of non-violence, and the central significance of Gandhi and his supporters has therefore been forgotten. This book recovers this tradition, charts its transformation, and ponders its abiding significance.Read more
- Offers a previously unexplored, transnational history of non-violent protest
- Explains the rise of radical protest in the US and UK in the 1960s through reference to an earlier generation of debate and activism
- Traces the long history of how Gandhi's person, example and actions have been reinterpreted and reapplied in Western democracies
- Shortlisted for the 2011 New South Wales Premiers Book Prize for General History
Reviews & endorsements
"An important and beautifully written book … a fine example of how to integrate the intellectual history of ideas with the forces of social and political history into a slim and elegant volume.”
Ramesh Thakur, The Australian Literary ReviewSee more reviews
“Scalmer establishes Gandhi as an omnipresent figure in western society whose message still informs a large part of cultural discourse … the author has given a new dimension to Gandhism.”
Preeti Agarwal, The Statesman
“Scalmer’s topic is the way that Western societies responded to Gandhi’s words, actions and image, and how those responses influenced political action in Western democracies … Almost every page is weighted with extensive footnotes that will delight a scholar … Scalmer writes clearly and concisely, and offers insights that are well worth the read.”
Richard Thwaites, Canberra Times
"The book is a result of careful research and brings together a huge amount of rich and useful material; it shows effectively the transformation of nonviolence over time. A helpful contribution to an unexplored history, the volume offers something new: a major, comparative and long-term study of transnational Gandhism has not been done so far. And this is precisely what Scalmer successfully has done in this book.”
Usha Thakkar, Economic and Political Weekly
"An excellent book; one of the very few histories to contemplate the evolution of Gandhism over time, the volume is based on numerous contemporary sources."
David Hardiman, American Historical Review
"… a lucid, clear and highly persuasive analysis of the ways in which US civil rights protesters and British pacifists adopted Gandhian forms of non-violent protest within their own campaigns … The result is one of the first comparative and transnational histories of the ideas and practices of non-violence in British and US peace and civil rights protests in the 1950s and 1960s."
Holger Nehring, English Historical Review
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- Date Published: February 2011
- format: Paperback
- isbn: 9780521139588
- length: 254 pages
- dimensions: 230 x 150 x 13 mm
- weight: 0.42kg
- availability: In stock
Table of Contents
1. Meeting the Mahatma
2. Gandhism in action
3. At war over words
4. Waiting for the peace train
5. The experimenters
6. An idea whose time has come?
7. Transformations unforeseen
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