Thursday, August 25, 2011

Theosophy, Cultural Nationalism, and Home Rule

Prof. Mark Bevir of the University of California, Berkeley, will be presenting a paper on “Theosophy, Cultural Nationalism, and Home Rule” at this year’s Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association in Seattle, Washington, Sept. 1-4. He says:

This essay contains three sections. The first shows how western theosophists simplified and appropriated Indian thought, deploying it to resolve dilemmas confronting occult and other religious traditions. The second section explores how theosophical ideas then provided one inspiration for a tradition of cultural nationalism within India itself. Finally, the third section examines how this cultural nationalism transformed Congress in the years immediately surrounding Gandhi’s return from South Africa.

Bevir, who is Professor of Political History, looks at Blavatsky’s work as part of the response to the problems facing contemporary Christians. He advances the theory that “In defending Hinduism, theosophy idealized Indian culture and society,” and charts the rise and influence of Annie Besant in the Home Rule Movement.

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