September 19, 2014 New Book on Gandhi to be Discussed on his Birthday, Oct. 2

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The Library of Congress will mark Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday (Oct. 2, 1869) by presenting a book talk by Nalini Natarajan, author of “Atlantic Gandhi: The Mahatma Overseas” (Sage Publishing, 2013).

The event will be held at noon on Thursday, Oct. 2 in the Whittall Pavilion, located on the ground floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building at 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C. A book signing will follow the talk. The event is presented by the Asian Division with support from the Asian Division Friends Society.

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born in the coastal city of Porbander in the Indian state of Gujarat. He was educated in India and trained in law at the Inner Temple in London. He spent 21 years as a legal representative for Indians living in South Africa, where he experienced discrimination against non-whites. After his return to India in 1915, he led nationwide campaigns to ease poverty, expand women's rights, build religious and ethnic amity between Muslims and Hindus and end discrimination against the lower classes (“untouchables”).

Gandhi renounced all worldly possessions and campaigned for a nonviolent, peaceful resistance to British rule. Earning the honorific title “Mahatma,” Gandhi led the country in its struggle for self-rule, which was achieved in August 1947. Gandhi was assassinated on Jan. 30, 1948, by a Hindu nationalist. Gandhi’s birthday is a national holiday in India, where he is considered the father of the nation. His birthday is commemorated worldwide as the International Day of Nonviolence.

Using diaspora theory as a framework, Natarajan will discuss how Gandhi’s move from colonial India to the plantation and mining society of South Africa helped shape his philosophy and prepared him to play a major role in Indian nationalism. The author’s viewpoint has been inspired by the new theory that has emerged in the last few decades: the Atlantic as an ocean that not just transported the victims of a greedy plantation system, but also saw the ferment of revolutionary ideas.

Born in India, Natarajan earned a master’s degree from Delhi University in 1978. Prior to earning a Ph.D. from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, she taught at the Jawaharlal Nehru University. Following a postdoctoral fellowship at Yale University, she joined the English Department at the University of Puerto Rico, where she has been teaching since 1987.

Natarajan is the author of “Woman and Indian Modernity: Readings of Colonial and Postcolonial Novels” (2002) and editor of “Handbook of Twentieth Century Literatures of India” (1996), which received the Outstanding Academic Book Award from Choice Magazine, a publication of the Association of College and Research Libraries.

The Asian Division at the Library of Congress holds more than 2.8 million books, periodicals, newspapers, electronic media and a large number of manuscripts from Asia. The collection is the most comprehensive source of Asian language materials outside of Asia, and covers the area ranging from the South Asian subcontinent and Southeast Asia to China, Japan, Korea, and Mongolia. For more information, visit

The Library of Congress, the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution and the largest library in the world, holds more than 158 million items in various languages, disciplines and formats. The Library serves the U.S. Congress and the nation both on-site in its reading rooms on Capitol Hill and through its website at


PR 14-169
ISSN 0731-3527