Religious Studies and Theology, Vol 27, No 2 (2008)

Getting Past Orientalism: Gandhi, Multiculturalism, and Identity

Michael Hawley
Issued Date: 29 Apr 2009


This paper considers the issue of multiculturalism through an examination of the way Gandhi’s relationship with the West has been understood. This discussion of Gandhi, the West, and multiculturalism proceeds in an historical framework. It begins by offering a short characterization of the way many, though certainly not all, Europeans involved in the colonial project understood their relationship with India and Indians. This provides the necessary context to sketch the postcolonial critic of Europe’s engagement with India, as well as to show how Gandhi actively played upon Western cultural values in his own thinking. The author argues that these two ways, “the colonial and the postcolonial” are insufficient for understanding Gandhi’s views on identity and multiculturalism. Instead, drawing on the work of Amartya Sen, a third option is proposed. This third option casts the concept of multiculturalism and our understanding of Gandhi in a new light.

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DOI: 10.1558/rsth.v27i2.195


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