2019 marks notable anniversaries for two of the most widely recognised icons of the philosophy of nonviolence. It is seventy years since the birth of Dr Martin Luther King Jr and the 150th anniversary of the birth of Mahatma Gandhi, both of whom brought significant, constructive, and far-reaching social and political change to the world.
Contemporary Icons of Nonviolence, a new collection of essays edited by Anna Hamling and published by Cambridge Scholars, offers an innovative perspective on these figures by placing them, their beliefs, and their theories within the chronology of the tradition of nonviolence. It is a tradition that begins with Lev Nikolaevicz Tolstoy and encompasses the likes of Óscar Romero, Nelson Mandela, Abdul Ghaffar Khan, and Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan, all of whom individual chapters are devoted to in the collection.
Nonviolence of the brave, according to Gandhi, “is a method of persuasion that draws on the best within a person to elicit the best from others.” As Michael Nagler notes in the introduction to the book:
“This definition goes far toward explaining the surprising effectiveness of nonviolence, how it elevates human dignity (which is in short supply these days), and why it is rewarding to doer and recipient alike – why it is such a fulfilling practice, in sharp contrast to the devastating effects of practicing violence. […] [It] brings out the most profound secret of nonviolence – that it is the defining characteristic of what it means to be human. This is the deepest meaning.”
The volume goes on to explore diverse understandings of the concepts of nonviolence in a philosophical and religious context, and, perhaps more importantly, highlights the application of the techniques of nonviolence in the 21st century. It is both a fascinating and a hugely necessary book which – if given the attention it deserves – will remain a valuable contribution to peace studies for many years to come.
You can see more information, read an extract, or purchase your copy of Contemporary Icons of Nonviolence on our website.
Anna Hamling, PhD, is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Culture and Media Studies at the University of New Brunswick, Canada. She is the author of the books Introducción a un estudio comparativo entre Miguel de Unamuno y León Tolstoi (2001) and Tolstoy, Unamuno and Their Religious Essays. An Introduction. The Yearning for True Faith (2010).
She has written over 50 articles and encyclopaedia entries, covering various aspects of religion and Spanish and Latin American culture. Her analyses of Tolstoy’s convictions led her to pursue research on nonviolence and she contributed chapters to The Routledge History of World Peace from 1750 to the Present and Gandhi and the World in 2018.