Hidden Histories of the anti-colonial struggle in British India

Today — February 18 , 2020— is the 74th anniversary of the beginning of the RIN Strike in 1946, the mutiny and rebellion of Indian sailors in the Royal Indian Navy.

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Between February 18 and 23, an estimated 70–80 ships and shore establishments were taken over by sailors (also called “ratings”), protesting conditions and quickly moving to political demands. …


On January 30, 1948, Mohandas K Gandhi, widely known as Mahatma Gandhi, was shot point blank and killed by Nathuram Godse after a prayer meeting in Delhi.

Godse was closely affiliated with the RSS, the core Hindutva organization that has underpinned the long and steady rise of Hindu nationalism. While the RSS was temporarily banned after the assassination, its reach can be illustrated by the fact that India’s current Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, has been an RSS member since the 1970s.

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MK Gandhi and his assassin, Nathuram Godse

The RSS today is confusing in how it talks about this political murder. …


Grappling with everyday racism

“Can you give me a hand with this?”

The other day in the Lowe’s parking lot, an older white man called out to me, pushing a flat cart with far too much for him to handle. I’m not exactly sure what he had on there, but he was straining with the weight.

I was on my way back to the building to leave my own flat cart in front, and for a second I thought it was just one human being reaching out to another — asking for help like many of us do, and should do, in these tough times.

But in a flash I recognized a…


Democrats need to be pushed from below

As Trump flees the White House with his tail between his legs, I pause to reflect on what this period has meant for me politically.

I remember all of the activists and comrades who fought Trump’s agenda tooth and nail, at every step.

I remember those who have passed on in this period, leaving gaping holes in Columbus activist communities. And in our hearts.

I reflect on the sudden demise of the national organization to which I dedicated almost 25 years, and its local branch that I was instrumental to building for 15…


Today is a good day to share a talk I gave this past summer called: “‘The Bombs in Vietnam Explode at Home’: How MLK Linked Racism, Poverty, and Militarism.” I point to King’s overall approach and go specifically into his speech “Beyond Vietnam.”

The talk was part of the “Burn a Bridge, Build a Bridge” Teach In organized by activists in Tucson, Arizona. Thanks to all the wonderful comrades there for inviting, for recording, and for making the whole event accessible.

We need to #ReclaimMLK.

Not just from the conservatives who claim to side with him — like Trump…


On the Eve of the March 2008 Ohio Primaries (republished)

First published on the “Democracy and Culture” blog connected to the Moritz College of Law at Ohio Stat on March 3, 2008, right before the Ohio Democratic primary featuring the candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Republishing here, with minor edits, less than a month before Obama’s VP, Joe Biden, takes office. While the place of the U.S. …


I’m writing a book on the 1857 Rebellion in Colonial India — on its legacies in the Indian imagination before and after independence from Britain. In the process I will take up questions about nationalism and anti-colonial struggle in both Marxism and postcolonial studies.

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Delhi in 1857 (Felic Beato)

In the meantime, I’ve been writing and speaking about 1857 for a while now. Here are some of the top hits, including more widely accessible introductions for a broad audience and some scholarly articles available through university libraries. I’ve added links when possible.

I’ll just note that while there’s some repetition here, I’ve also shifted some…


A brief, anti-imperialist history of the rebellion and its significance

First published at Rebel News (Ireland) on November 12, 2020.

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The 1857 Rebellion against British rule in Colonial India hasn’t always received the attention it deserves, despite being one of the most important uprisings of the 19th century. Pranav Jani argues it’s high time we changed that.

The 1857 Rebellion, sparked by mutinous Indian soldiers of the British East India Company army and fuelled by peasant and elite uprisings in the countryside, was one of the most widespread, sustained, and dramatic uprisings in the history of the British Empire. Until its final sparks were extinguished in early 1859 by the brutal counter-insurgency armies of European and Indian loyalists, the ghadar (“uprising”) showed that the mighty British were not invincible.

100 years after the British East India Company’s…


Elections 2020 and the Left

Hot Take #1

I don’t think representation is meaningless. I’m not in the business of chiding people for being happy with the first Black woman selected as VP. I think people are excited because US-style identity politics as usual — let’s pick rich white men only — is being challenged, going against the norm in this country because of its wretched history.

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Kamala Harris | Associated Press

Hot Take #2

I’ve got skin in the game, too. That episode with Mindy Kaling and Kamala Harris making dosai was heartwarming. Their joint memories of parents using “Taster’s Choice” bottles for storage hit the spot. That photo of her with her mom in…

Pranav Jani

Associate Professor of English (Postcolonial & Critical Ethnic Studies), The Ohio State University. He/him. Opinions are my own. @redguju

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