Gandhi’s Printing Press: Global Trajectories of Print Culture in the Indian Ocean

During his South African years (1893-1914), Mohandas Gandhi began fashioning his world-changing ideas on satyagraha/‘passive resistance’.  But he also practiced another kind of craft – running a printing press and publishing a newspaper.

This project explores how Gandhi’s experiences as a press proprietor, printer and publicist influenced his philosophies. Gandhian theories of reading and writing shaped his ideals of satyagraha.

Gandhi also grappled with what we now call ‘information overload’. Like many aspects of life, reading and writing were becoming driven by industrial rhythms.

In this crucible, Gandhi sought to slow things down.  Printing was decelerated through hand-operated technology while Gandhi created a slow-motion newspaper aimed at pausing rather than rushing ahead.  Reading can only proceed at the pace of the body and so, can slow down the relentless rhythms of industrial capitalism.

Project leader(s):
  • Isabel Hofmeyr (Witwatersrand)

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