Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2011

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Religious Studies

First Advisor

Loriliai Biernacki

Second Advisor

Greg Johnson

Third Advisor

Mithi Mukherjee


This paper examines the ways in which Gandhi's diet--his practice of eating meat as a young man in India, his associations with the London Vegetarian Society, his experiments in South Africa, and, ultimately, his important role in the resistance movement against the British Colonial project in India--functioned as an agentive means of constructing the subject via specific technologies of the self. It is my contention that the roots of Gandhi's social activism can be found in his dietetic practices, which were an essential component of his social philosophy as instigated, initially, as a young man in India, then developed in England, further refined in South Africa, and most famously applied in India. Throughout his life Gandhi's dietary discourse went through many discursive shifts; what remains consistent, however, throughout this dietetic history is the presence of Orientalist discursive constructions, as well as the element of resistance to modern civilization.