Gandhi falling ... and rising

Rahul Rao*

*Corresponding author for this work

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In recent years, statues of Gandhi have been attacked by a variety of radically incommensurable movements. Subaltern social movements struggling to dismantle the legacies of colonialism, slavery and apartheid have attacked Gandhi on the grounds of his alleged racism, casteism, misogyny and because he functions as a cipher for the imperialism of the contemporary Indian state and the racism of Indian society. Yet little about the case against Gandhi is new. This article explores why these arguments are being voiced now by identifying three discursive vehicles that have given them salience – decolonisation in the African academy, US-originated Afropessimism and a resurgent global Dalit movement. The article juxtaposes this global picture with the range of contradictory attitudes expressed towards Gandhi in India, where a state dominated by the neoliberal Hindu Right promotes Gandhi abroad at the same time as it sidelines him at home. Simultaneously, Gandhi is attacked by its domestic electoral base while remaining a talisman for its opponents as a symbol of an elusive communal harmony and environmentalism. In revealing how Gandhi is toppled by radically incommensurable social movements and how attitudes towards Gandhi do not map neatly onto power, the article complicates ongoing debates about decolonisation, memorialisation and heritage.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1–10
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Historical Geography
Early online date1 Aug 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2023


  • Gandhi
  • Race
  • Caste
  • Rhodes Must Fall
  • Gandhi Must Fall
  • Decolonisation
  • Afropessimism
  • Dalit
  • Hindu Right
  • Statues


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