Aishwary Kumar

Visiting Fellow
Biography: 

Aishwary Kumar is an intellectual historian and political theorist with interests in South Asian, European, and American political thought. His work spans a wide spectrum of issues in moral and political philosophy, political justice and constitutional theory, war and ethics, empire and liberalism, and the history of democratic thought and rights.

Kumar’s first book, Radical Equality: Ambedkar, Gandhi, and the Risk of Democracy (Stanford University Press, 2015), was listed by The Indian Express as one of the fifteen most important works on politics, morality, and law to be published anywhere that year. His essays have appeared in Modern Intellectual History, Contemporary South Asia, Social History, and Public Culture, among other places. He has also been featured on the radio shows Entitled Opinions and Philosophy Talk

Kumar is currently working on two books. The first, The Sovereign Void: Ambedkar’s Critique of Violence, examines the genealogies of political freedom and war in Southern and Atlantic political thought and their relation to notions of “force” across epistemological, theological, and secular traditions. The second, The Gravity of Truth: Disenchantment, Disappointment, and Democracy, takes the Obama Presidency as its starting point to explore the place of moral agency and political judgment in the global constitutional imagination. 

Kumar is a senior fellow in Human Rights, Constitutional Politics, and Religious Diversity at the Lichtenberg Kolleg—Göttingen Institute of Advanced Study, Germany, and a visiting fellow at the Institute of Human Sciences (IWM) in Vienna, Austria. He has previously held fellowships in Europe and the United Kingdom. He earned his doctorate in History at Trinity College, University of Cambridge in 2007.

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Democracy, Populism, And Polytheism: Islam In India

by Aishwary Kumarvia The Caravan
Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Extreme fascination with idols, statues, and names is widespread across South Asia and the ritualistic violence that accompanies such practices is neither modern nor singular to India, the region’s most doggedly democratic and unequivocally polytheistic country. In fact, until this past November, when the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled India’s colossal 182-meter high Statue of Unity, which now stands as the world’s highest monument to a revisionist history of nationalism, the record for height belonged to a more modest Buddhist statue in China, shorter than Modi’s populist gift to India by more than 100 feet.