Asia’s Corporeal Materialism? How Body Matters to Maoism and Gandhism

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference paper


Maoism and Gandhism, two divergent political thoughts and undertakings that could be grasped as parts of Asianism in response to the impacts of Western modernity, have generally been considered as a kind of voluntarism that heavily relies on spiritual, subjective, and will power to advance their political objectives and carry out their actions. I argue in this paper that body or matter indeed plays a very significant role in the essence of their movements. The materialist theory of Maoist and Gandhian politics in specific Asian contexts means more than the transformative power of human agencies in the established historical materialist traditions. While new materialism is usually dismissed as being unconcerned of actual politics, and of being insufficient to analyze how matter is mobilized to political ends, I attempt to make use of the new materialist perspective and concept, though there may not be a coherent one as such, to examine how material objects and bodies help constitute the ideal and imagined worlds promoted by Maoist and Gandhian activists. Other than reassessing these old materialists-cum-voluntarists in the context of new materialism, I also explore the emancipatory potential, with both positive and negative effects in a dialectical mode, of their matter-oriented thinking in relation to the looming environmental issue and the penetration of technology into daily life, which could be understood as a different kind of enslavement.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 7 May 2021
EventWorkshop on Materiality and Materialism 2021 - Online
Duration: 7 May 20218 May 2021


WorkshopWorkshop on Materiality and Materialism 2021
Internet address


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