Mahatma Gandhi in Global History


Learn about one of the great but controversial personalities of twentieth-century world history, Mahatma Gandhi, who used at a mass level the novel agitational technique of non-violent civil disobedience against the powerful British Empire. By the end of this course, you will know about his life, philosophy, political strategies, and his influence on India and on democratic movements in other parts of the world—in his time and ours.

Recommended reading list:
Before the beginning of the course, you may like to read any of the following books for background information:

  1. Ramachandra Guha, Gandhi: the years that changed the world, 1914 -1948 (New York, Alfred Knoff, 2018);
  2. David Arnold, Gandhi: Profiles in Power (London: Longman, 2001);
  3. Judith M. Brown, Gandhi: Prisoner of Hope (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1989).

Target audience:
This course will be of interest to anyone interested in the history of nationalism, colonialism, non-violent democratic movements, anti-colonial struggles, process of decolonization and struggles for civil rights and human rights. Teachers of history in secondary schools might also be particularly interested.

Learning objectives:
By the end of this course, you will have learnt about:

  • Mahatma Gandhi’s life and philosophy
  • some of the existing historical debates about colonialism and nationalism;
  • how Gandhi defined his ideology of anti-imperialism;
  • how his method of non-violent agitation influenced some other world leaders and movements; and
  • what relevance his ideas of an alternative modernity and his message of non-violence have in the present-day context of industrialism, globalisation and international conflict.

Course outline:
Each session includes a lecture presentation with time for questions and group discussion.

Session 1: Mahatma Gandhi’s life and philosophy

Session 2: Mahatma Gandhi and the nationalist mass movements in India

Session 3: Mahatma Gandhi’s influence on global democratic movements

There is a short break halfway through each session and you are welcome to bring your own refreshments if you wish.

Sekhar Bandyopadhyay is currently the director of the New Zealand India Research Institute. In 1992, he joined Victoria University of Wellington, where he has been a professor of Asian history, deputy dean, and an associate dean (research) in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. Before coming to the University, he taught at University of Calcutta and the University of Kalyani, India.

Educated at Presidency College and University of Calcutta, Professor Bandyopadhyay’s primary research interest is in the history of nationalism and caste system in colonial and postcolonial India. He is also interested in the history of Indian migration and the Indian Diaspora. He has written six books, edited or co-edited twelve books, and published more than forty book chapters and journal articles. Some of his recent books are Decolonization in South Asia (Routledge, 2009), Caste, Protest and Identity in Colonial India (Second edition, OUP, 2011) and From Plassey to Partition and After: A History of Modern India (Second Edition, Orient Black Swan, 2015). Some of his edited books are Nationalist Movement in India: A Reader (OUP, 2009), India in New Zealand: Local Identities, Global Relations (Otago University Press, 2010) and Decolonization and the Politics of Transition in South Asia (Orient Black Swan 2016). Two of his recent co-edited books are Religion and Modernity in India (OUP, 2016) and Indians and the Antipodes: Networks, Boundaries and Circulation (OUP, 2018).

In 2014 for his book Decolonization in South Asia he was awarded the Rabindra Smriti Puroskar (Rabindranath Tagore Prize) by the Government of West Bengal, India. Professor Bandyopadhyay is a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand.

Relevant links:
School of History, Philosophy, Political Studies and International Relations

For further information:
Continuing Education, Victoria University of Wellington, PO Box 600, Wellington 6140
Phone 04 463 6556, Email:

Please note: Courses need a minimum number of enrolments to go ahead. If your course doesn’t reach the number required, we’ll have to cancel it. If this happens, we’ll contact you by phone or email about a week before the scheduled start date and arrange a full refund. Please check your emails regularly.