PUKAR Annual Lecture became Carol Breckenridge Memorial Lecture from December’ 2009
The first Carol Breckenridge Memorial lecture, 2009 brought together Social Anthropologist Arjun Appadurai and Dr Ashis Nandy (socio political theorist and social psychologist) as the keynote speaker for the evening, with Dr. Faisal Devji (Reader at St. Anthony’s College at Oxford University) and Dr. Ritu Birla (Professor of History as the University of Toronto) as respondents.
The chair for the evening, Dr. Arjun Appadurai, welcomed the audience to both the lecture for the evening and the Hind Swaraj conference as a whole and dedicated both the conference and the evening’s event to the memory of Prof. Carol Breckenridge.
Dr. Nandy began by declaring that he was not a historian and did not look at Gandhi as a historical figure. Instead, he was interested in Gandhi as a mythical figure – a mythical figure, where when you begin to talk about Gandhi, you actually begin to talk about yourself. In an attempt to study Gandhi, one begins exploring oneself.
Dr. Nandy stated that the ‘private life of non-violence’ encompassed both the status and configuration of the principle of non-violence and the sentiments and emotions attached to it, along with the fact that the private life was private by the very fact that it was excluded from public life. Non-violence is something, which, all over the world, not least of all in India, has a rather ambiguous status. We are primarily defined by our world image of enlightenment and therefore we do not presently have, or have ever had, a clear way of containing or exhaustively defining the idea of absolute non-violence. There is no granting of absolute status to the principles of non-violence.