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Aishwary Kumar

Aishwary Kumar

Assistant Professor of History
South Asia
Transnational, International, and Global History
Ph.D., Trinity College, University of Cambridge
M.A., Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
B.A., University of Delhi

Aishwary Kumar is a political theorist and intellectual historian of South Asia, empire, and the Global South. His work engages a wide spectrum of issues in moral and political philosophy, democracy and constitutional theory, political justice and religion, and the history of political thought. More specifically, it focuses on the relationship between freedom, war, and notions of force, and global entanglements of self-determination, citizenship, and inequality. He has also written on political realism and philosophy of action in a range of revolutionary, anti-caste, and anti-imperial traditions, the postcolonial struggle with the minority as moral form, and the limits of nationalist constructions of the human.

Kumar's first book, Radical Equality: Ambedkar, Gandhi, and the Risk of Democracy (Stanford, 2015), examines the tension between religious conceptions of freedom and insurrectionary genealogies of citizenship in anticolonial traditions, as they transform theological and liberal norms of authority over the last two centuries. Radical Equality was listed by The Indian Express among the year's 15 most important works on politics, morality, and law. He is now completing, on traditions of mystical anarchism and democratic judgment, his second book, The Sovereign Void: Ambedkar's Critique of Violence. 

In progress also are two closely linked studies on the planetary life of freedom and the global constitutional imagination. Among these, The Gravity of Truth examines the place of faith, perjury, and secrecy-- arcana imperii-- in theories of sovereignty and ethical life. The Nonhuman Condition deepens this engagement with the dispositif of life (equal/ unequal, human/inhuman, planetary/oceanic, person/ thing), probing the borders between movement, machinicity, and mastery in traditions of philosophical anthropology, international law, and natural rights. For a beginning, see "Satyagraha and the Place of the Animal: Gandhi's Distinctions," Social History 2014.

Kumar has received fellowships in Germany, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. He advises graduate and undergraduate students in History, Philosophy, International Relations, Political Science, Religious Studies, and Modern Thought and Literature. Apart from courses on empire and anticolonialism, he offers seminars on liberalism and violence, global intellectual history, secularity and religion in democratic theory, theories of justice, and issues in modern political thought. He directs the Department's History, Philosophy, and the Arts (HPA) track for majors and convenes the workshop on Civility, Cruelty, Truth.


Selected Publications & Projects

Aishwary Kumar
It is by now clear that the rhetoric and practice of democracy in the Global South has irreversibly transformed the European meanings of the concept...