Leela Gandhi
Born1966 (age 57–58)
Mumbai, India
ParentRamchandra Gandhi
Academic background
Academic work
DisciplineCultural and literary theory
School or traditionPostcolonial

Leela Gandhi (born 1966) is an Indian-born literary and cultural theorist who is noted for her work in postcolonial theory.[1][2] She is currently the John Hawkes Professor of Humanities and English and director of the Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women at Brown University.[3][4][5] She is the great-granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi.

Gandhi previously taught at the University of Chicago, La Trobe University, and the University of Delhi. She is a founding co-editor of the academic journal Postcolonial Studies, and she serves on the editorial board of the electronic journal Postcolonial Text.[6] She is a Senior Fellow of the School of Criticism and Theory at Cornell University.[7]

Early life and education

Gandhi was born in Mumbai and is the daughter of the late Indian philosopher Ramchandra Gandhi and the great-granddaughter of the Indian Independence movement leader Mahatma Gandhi.[8] She has offered analysis that some of Mahatma Gandhi's philosophies (on nonviolence and vegetarianism, for example) and policies were influenced by transnational as well as indigenous sources.[9] She received her undergraduate degree from Hindu College, Delhi and her doctorate was from Balliol College, Oxford.[10]

She is also the great-granddaughter of C. Rajagopalachari. Her paternal grandfather Devdas Gandhi was the youngest son of Mahatma Gandhi and her paternal grandmother Lakshmi was the daughter of C. Rajagopalachari.[citation needed]

Reviews and critiques

With the publication of her first book Postcolonial Theory: A Critical Introduction in 1998, Gandhi was described as mapping "the field in terms of its wider philosophical and intellectual context, drawing important connections between postcolonial theory and poststructuralism, postmodernism, Marxism and feminism."[11]

Her next book, Affective Communities, was written to "[reveal] for the first time how those associated with marginalized lifestyles, subcultures, and traditions—including homosexuality, vegetarianism, animal rights, spiritualism, and aestheticism—united against imperialism and forged strong bonds with colonized subjects and cultures".[12] Gandhi traces the social networks of activists in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries connecting Edward Carpenter with M.K. Gandhi and Mirra Alfassa with Sri Aurobindo.

Through this work, Gandhi became noted for proposing a "conceptual model of postcolonial engagement" surrounding ethical premises of hospitality and "xenophilia", and for bringing for the first time a queer perspective to postcolonial theory.

Gandhi's third book, The Common Cause, presents a transnational history of democracy in the first half of the twentieth century through the lens of ethics in the broad sense of disciplined self-fashioning.[13] This book has been described as "an alternate history of democracy foregrounding events of errant relation," and "the most thoroughgoing defence of the value of infinite inclusivity to postcolonial studies."[13][14][15]

Leela Gandhi is also a published poet. Her first collection of poems, Measures of Home, was published by Ravi Dayal in 2000, and her subsequent poetry is included in several anthologies.[16][17][18][19]

Published books


  1. ^ "Leela Gandhi speaks on postcolonial ethics in first Humanities Lecture". Cornell Chronicle. Retrieved 21 September 2021.
  2. ^ "'Civil society is like a Socratic gadfly to the state'". The Indian Express. 24 April 2015. Retrieved 27 January 2022.
  3. ^ Leela Gandhi's Research Profile at Brown University
  4. ^ New Faculty, News from Brown
  5. ^ Amesur, Akshay (10 September 2021). "Pembroke Center endowed with $5 million donation, welcomes new director". Brown Daily Herald. Retrieved 21 September 2021.
  6. ^ Postcolonial Text. ISSN 1705-9100.
  7. ^ Senior Fellows at the School of Criticism and Theory
  8. ^ IndiaPost.com: President, PM condole death of Ramachandra Gandhi Archived 2007-12-20 at the Wayback Machine Wednesday, 06.20.2007
  9. ^ As recounted in the notes on the Australian National University Humanities Research Center's conference Gandhi, Non-Violence and Modernity
  10. ^ "University of Chicago, Department of English faculty Web page". Archived from the original on 9 June 2010.
  11. ^ Gandhi, Leela. Postcolonial Theory: A Critical Introduction. Columbia University Press:1998 ISBN 0-231-11273-4. Back cover
  12. ^ Gandhi, Leela, Affective Communities: Anticolonial Thought and the Politics of Friendship. New Delhi, Permanent Black, 2006, x, 254 p., $28. ISBN 81-7824-164-1. (jacket)
  13. ^ a b Gandhi, Leela (2014). The Common Cause: Postcolonial Ethics and the Practice of Democracy, 1900–1955. University of Chicago Press. Back Cover. ISBN 9780226019901.
  14. ^ Mehta, Rijuta; Langley, Tom; Bayeh, Jumana; Pressley-Sanon, Toni; Martin, Denise (2 November 2014). "Reviews". Interventions. 16 (6): 926–937. doi:10.1080/1369801X.2014.959372. ISSN 1369-801X. S2CID 216150837.
  15. ^ The Common Cause. Retrieved 27 October 2015. ((cite book)): |website= ignored (help)
  16. ^ de Souza, Eunice; Silgardo, Melanie, eds. (2013). The Penguin Book of Indian Poetry. Penguin. ISBN 9780143414537.
  17. ^ Thayil, Jeet, ed. (2008). 60 Indian Poets. Penguin. ISBN 9780143064428.
  18. ^ Sen, Sudeep, ed. (2012). The HarperCollins Book of English Poetry. HarperCollins. ISBN 978-93-5029-041-5.
  19. ^ Watson, Mabel; Pitt, Ursula, eds. (2011). Domestic Cherry (1 ed.). Snove Books. ISBN 9781447660453.
  20. ^ Thomas, Dominic Richard David (2003). "Postcolonial Theory: A Critical Introduction (review)". Research in African Literatures. 34 (3): 214–215. doi:10.1353/ral.2003.0088. ISSN 1527-2044. S2CID 143448163.