Professor Sumathi Ramaswamy to Highlight Representations of Mahatma Gandhi in Two Events

Sumathi RamaswamyIn collaboration with the Department of Art and Music Histories, the South Asia Center will host Professor Sumathi Ramaswamy, the James B. Duke Professor of History at Duke University, to Syracuse for two events focusing on representations of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. These events are held in part to mark Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary.

On Wednesday, November 13, Professor Ramaswamy will give a public lecture titled “Gandhi in the Gallery: The Art of Disobedience,” in which she will analyze how, over the past century, modern artists from India have turned to Gandhi as their muse. Her lecture will take place at 2:15 pm in the Peter Graham Scholarly Commons, Room 114, Bird Library.

On Friday, November 15, Professor Ramaswamy will lead a two-hour mini-seminar called, “Through American Eyes: The Mahatma and Margaret Bourke-White” in the Special Collections Research Center in Bird Library. Drawing upon iconic photographs of Gandhi taken by the acclaimed American photographer Margaret Bourke-White when she visited India in the 1940s, this session will focus on how photography created and consolidated an image of Gandhi as the Mahatma (Great Soul). Together with seminar participants, Professor Ramaswamy will examine selected photographs, documents, and Life magazine issues from the Margaret Bourke-White papers and archives housed in Special Collections. A reading will be circulated in advance. The seminar will be held from 10 am-12 pm in the Special Collections Research Center. Space is limited so please contact Emera Bridger Wilson ( to reserve a spot.

Professor Sumathi Ramaswamy is Chair of the Department of History at Duke University and President of the American Institute of Indian Studies (AIIS) (2018- 2022). She has published extensively on language politics, gender studies, spatial studies and the history of cartography, visual studies and the modern history of art, and more recently, digital humanities and the history of philanthropy. Her most recent monograph is titled Terrestrial Lessons: The Conquest of the World as Globe (University of Chicago Press, 2017). She is the winner of numerous scholarly awards including from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation and the American Council of Learned Societies in the USA, and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in Germany. She is currently working on a book on the shifting contours of educational philanthropy in colonial and modern India, and on a collaborative digital humanities project titled “No Parallel? The Fatherly Bodies of Gandhi and Mao.” For more information about Professor Ramaswamy’s visit, please contact Romita Ray, Chair, Department of Art and Music Histories ( or Emera Bridger Wilson, Associate Director, South Asia Center (

This event is co-sponsored by a number of units from across Syracuse University, including the College of Arts & Sciences; Syracuse University Humanities Center; Syracuse University Libraries; Department of Art and Music Histories; Department of History; Department of Communication and Rhetorical Studies; Department of Magazine, News and Digital Journalism; Goldring Arts Journalism Program; Visual Communications Department, Newhouse; Light Work; Lender Center for Social Justice; the Democratizing Knowledge Project; and the Renée Crown University Honors Program.