Kumar, Aishwary

Aishwary Kumar (PhD., University of Cambridge) is a political theorist and intellectual historian of South Asia, empire, and the Global South. His work engages a wide spectrum of issues in moral and political philosophy, history of political thought and inequality, political freedom and justice, and global lineages of self-determination, citizenship, and rights. He has also written on rhetoric, force, and political realism, philosophy of action across a range of constitutional, revolutionary, and anti-war traditions, the postcolonial struggle with the minority as moral form, and the limits of nationalist constructions of the human.

Kumar’s first book, Radical Equality: Ambedkar, Gandhi, and the Risk of Democracy (Stanford, 2015) examined the relationship between religious conceptions of freedom and the origins of democratic disobedience in modern anticolonial traditions, with an emphasis on the transformation of liberal and theological articulations of authority over the last two centuries. Radical Equality was listed by The Indian Express among the 15 most important books on politics and morality to be published that year. Kumar is now completing, on democratic judgment and notions of force, his second book, The Sovereign Void: Ambedkar’s Critique of Violence.

At the Lichtenberg Kolleg since the summer, Kumar has been working on two closely linked studies on the planetary life of freedom and the global constitutional imagination. Among these, The Nonhuman Condition deepens the engagement with the dispositif of life (equal/unequal, human, inhuman, planetary/oceanic, person/thing) that he began in Radical Equality, probing the borders between movement, machinicity, and mastery in traditions of philosophical anthropology, international law, and natural rights. The second, titled The Gravity of Truth, recovers the long genealogy of constitutional, theological, and ethical concerns about secrecy and silence, perjury and truthfulness, in politics.

Kumar has been a recipient of fellowships in Germany, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. His essays have appeared in Modern Intellectual History, Public Culture, Social History, Contemporary South Asia, and Seminar.