Divya Dwivedi

Divya Dwivedi is a philosopher[3] and author based in India.[4][1] She is an associate professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi.[5] Her work focuses on ontology, metaphysics, literature, and philosophy of politics.[6]

Divya Dwivedi
Divya Dwivedi.jpg
Dwivedi speaking at the India International Centre, New Delhi
Alma materLady Shri Ram College, Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi
EraContemporary philosophy
InstitutionsIndian Institute of Technology, Delhi
Main interests
Ontology, History of philosophy, Narratology,[2] Psychoanalysis

Early life and educationEdit

Dwivedi is originally from Allahabad. Her mother is Sunitha Dwivedi and her father, Rakesh Dwivedi, practices as a senior lawyer for the Supreme Court of India.[7] Dwivedi’s grandfather (paternal), S. N. Dwivedi was a judge at the Supreme Court of India, and her grandfather (maternal) Raj Mangal Pandewas a minister in the union government of India.[8]

She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Lady Shri Ram College, Delhi and her Master's degree from St. Stephen's College.[9] She pursued her M.Phil from University of Delhi and received her doctorate from Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi.[9]


Dwivedi is currently an associate professor at Department of Humanities & Social Sciences, IIT Delhi.[9][10] She had earlier taught at St. Stephen's College and at Dept. of English, Delhi University.[9] She was a visiting scholar at Centre for Fictionality Studies, Aarhus University in 2013 and 2014.[9]

Dwivedi's political writings have been critical of caste oppression,[11] religious discrimination, Hindu nationalism.[12][13]

She is the editor and co-founder of the international multilingual journal Philosophy World Democracy with Zeynep Direk, Achille Mbembe, Jean-Luc Nancy, Shaj Mohan, and Mireille Delmas-Marty.[3]

American journal for critical theory, Episteme, published a special issue on the work of Dwivedi and Shaj Mohan in 2021.[6]

She is a member of the Theory Committee of the International Comparative Literature Association along with Robert J. C. Young, Stefan Willer and others.[14] Dwivedi is a member of the International Network of Women Philosophers.[15]

Philosophical works and viewsEdit

Dwivedi's philosophical standpoint departs from the school of deconstruction and it was described as deconstructive materialism.[16][17] Her philosophical research projects developed in a "community of friendship with Jean-Luc Nancy, Bernard Stiegler, Achille Mbembe, and Barbara Cassin".[18] She publishes in the areas of ontology,[19] narratology,[20] metaphysics, linguistics,[21] and deconstruction.[22]

Dwivedi’s work on Psychoanalysis is focused on the theory of drives in Sigmund Freud. Jean-Luc Nancy said that her work on Freud is "very enlightening" and she has "tied up a very important link between the texts of Freud", thereby showing the connections between Freud’s theory of drives, mass psychology and politics.[23]

School of thoughtEdit

Dwivedi said that philosophy is a disruptive practice following from the Socratic model.[24] Following from it there is "a necessary relation between philosophy and politics". She is opposed to treating philosophical traditions as adjectives of philosophical practice.[25]

In an introduction to the December 2017 Women Philosphers' Journal guest-edited by Dwivedi, Barbara Cassin wrote Dwivedi "is a philosopher" whose refusal to make "the post-colonial the first and the last word undoubtedly allows us to clarify with greater precision what is happening to women, philosophers and intellectuals in India today".[26]

In an interview with Mediapart Dwivedi said that postcolonial theory and Hindu nationalism are two versions of the same theory, and that they are both upper caste political projects.[27] Dwivedi noted that in the field of feminism postcolonial theory remains an upper caste theoretical standpoint which has been preventing lower caste feminists from opening their own currents in the context of the Me too movement.[28] Dwivedi wrote in her editorial introduction to the UNESCO journal La Revue des Femmes-Philosophes that postcolonial theory is continuous with Hindu nationalism.[29]

Together, postcolonialism and subaltern theory have established the paradigm of research in humanities and social sciences—in India and abroad—over the past four decades. "Eurocentrism", "historicisation", and "postcolonialism" are also the operative terms through which the Hindu nationalist discourse conserves the caste order.

Gandhi and Philosophy: On Theological Anti-politicsEdit

In 2018, Dwivedi co-authored Gandhi and Philosophy: On Theological Anti-politics with the philosopher Shaj Mohan. The book examines different aspects of Mahatma Gandhi's thought from a new philosophical system based on the concept of anastasis.[30][31] Jean-Luc Nancy wrote the foreword to Gandhi and Philosophy and said that it gives a new orientation to philosophy which is neither metaphysics nor hypophysics.[32]

The book proposes that in addition to the metaphysical tendency in philosophy there is a 'hypophysical tendency'; hypophysics is defined as "a conception of nature as value". As per hypophysics the distance from nature that human beings and natural objects come to have through the effects of technology lessens their value, or brings them closer to evil.[33] Gandhi's concept of passive force or nonviolence is an implication of his hypophysical commitment to nature.[34] Dwivedi made a separation between metaphysics and hypophysics in her Royal Institute of Philosophy lecture, "While both seek to diagnose the 'west', each opens on to distinct futures: metaphysics to an "other thinking" than philosophy, hypophysics to the other of thinking itself".[35]

Gandhi and Philosophy identifies racism with caste practices and controversially ascribes a form of racism to Gandhi.[16] When The Indian Express reported on the developing uproar resulting from allegations of Gandhi's racism, Dwivedi said in response that Gandhi was a specific type of racist "invented a new basis for racism, which is based on moral superiority".[5]

Scholarship and public interventions on casteEdit

Dwivedi is noted for writing against caste oppression[36] and arguing that Hinduism was constructed in the early 20th century by the upper caste leaders of India such as Mahatma Gandhi to hide caste discrimination.[37][38] As quoted by The Print, "The Hindu religion was invented in the early 20th century in order to hide the fact that the lower caste people are the real majority of India…"[37] In an interview to LARB she said that "Hindu" as a word is not of Indian origin.[39] The British colonial census revealed that the lower caste people of India are the majority of India and the upper castes constructed the Hindu category in collaboration with the colonial administration. She wrote in the journal ESPRIT that caste oppression is masked through the Hindu category.[40] In the 2021 January cover story of the Caravan magazine titled "The Hindu Hoax: How Upper Castes Invented a Hindu Majority" she argued that lower caste political leaders were opposed to the Hindu category when it was being proposed during the colonial rule. In the same article Dwivedi said that colonialism was mostly a liberating experience for the lower caste people, as it allowed them access to public spaces and public institutions such as schools and the army.[41] After the publication of the Caravan article Dwivedi received threats against her as reported by news media including TruthOut[42] and Le Monde.[43] Jean-Luc Nancy wrote in the Liberation about Dwivedi’s writings on caste oppression and expressed concern about the threats to her. She opposed caste oppression in several interviews[44] including to Le Monde[45] and articles.[46]

Dwivedi has also supported individuals[47] suffering under institutional caste oppression.[48] Mathrubhumi and other media reported that Dwivedi "expressed her concerns over the ongoing protest against alleged caste discrimination at KR Narayanan National Institute of Visual Science and Arts (KRNNIVSA) in Kottayam".[49]

Dwivedi believes that the caste system is the dominant factor in the organization of Indian society and governance, and destruction of the caste order is the "only worthy pursuit of Indian politics." However, in her view, this goal cannot be achieved through routine transfer of political power but would instead require a French-style social revolution.[2]


The Book Review said that the philosophical project of Gandhi and Philosophy is to create new evaluative categories, "the authors, in engaging with Gandhi's thought, create their categories, at once descriptive and evaluative" while pointing to the difficulty given by the rigour of a "A seminal if difficult read for those with an appetite for philosophy".[50]

Robert Bernasconi noted that Gandhi and Philosophy is "not a book that you will understand at first reading".[51] The difficulty due to the constructivist style was noted by other authors as well.[50][52][53] The Indian Express stated "Mohan and Dwivedi have done a masterful job of avoiding the binary fork — hagiography or vituperation — as much of Gandhi and hagiography comes from a need to spiritualise Gandhi".[16]

Economic and Political Weekly pointed to Dwivedi's participation in the paradigm of "western philosophy", especially when Gandhi's goal was to create an alternative to Eurocentrism. EPW said that her work may be of interest only to continental philosophy as she does not participate in Indic discourse.[54] The Indian Express commented on the negative implications of Gandhi and Philosophy and said that through this book "Gandhi can be seen as a nihilist — someone who even decries sex for reproduction and would like human society to wither away".[5]





  • "A Flight Indestinate", in Coronavirus, Psychoanalysis, and Philosophy, Editors Fernando Castrillón et al., Oxford: Routledge, 2021.


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Divya Dwivedi – Bloomsbury". Bloomsbury Publishing.
  2. ^ a b "A French-style revolution alone can help India recover from its current caste stasis, says Prof Dwivedi". Asian Lite International. 18 October 2022. Retrieved 22 October 2022.
  3. ^ a b "#ELLEVoices: Divya Dwivedi On How She Is #ImaginingTheWorldToBe". Elle India. Retrieved 14 January 2021.
  4. ^ "The Resurrection of Philosophy". The Wire.
  5. ^ a b c Joshi, Aakash (18 August 2019). "A new book examines what we talk about when we talk about the Father of the Nation :Reading the Mahatma, Interview". The Indian Express.
  6. ^ a b "Philosophy for Another Time; Towards a Collective Political Imagination". positions politics. Retrieved 11 March 2021.
  7. ^ Chandran, Cynthia (11 February 2019). "New book rubbishes BJP aim to assimilate Gandhi". Deccan Chronicle. Retrieved 22 December 2019.
  8. ^ "Two philosophers and a political theorist: An allegory of Indian public sphere". English.Mathrubhumi. Retrieved 24 November 2022.
  9. ^ a b c d e "Divya Dwivedi | Humanities & Social Sciences". hss.iitd.ac.in.
  10. ^ "The proletariat are all those who are denied the collective faculty of imagination; Divya Dwivedi tells ILNA". ILNA. Retrieved 17 May 2020.
  11. ^ Reghu, co-authored by Divya Dwivedi,Shaj Mohan,J. "How upper castes invented a Hindu majority". The Caravan. Retrieved 15 March 2021.
  12. ^ Nancy, Jean-Luc. "La religieuse manipulation du pouvoir". Libération (in French). Retrieved 15 March 2021.
  13. ^ "En Inde, le mensuel " The Caravan " est harcelé par la police". Le Monde.fr (in French). 2 February 2021. Retrieved 15 March 2021.
  14. ^ "Members ICLA Theory". www.iclatheory.org. 6 July 2015.
  15. ^ "Interview with Divya Dwivedi – Humanities, Arts and Society". Retrieved 18 February 2022.
  16. ^ a b c Ayyar, Raj. "Bending the binary". The Indian Express.
  17. ^ "The Deconstructive Materialism of Dwivedi and Mohan: A New Philosophy of Freedom". positions politics. Retrieved 11 March 2021.
  18. ^ Mediapart, Les invités de. "In support of Divya Dwivedi and Shaj Mohan". Mediapart (in French). Retrieved 24 November 2022.
  19. ^ "Two philosophers and a political theorist: An allegory of Indian public sphere". English.Mathrubhumi. Retrieved 11 February 2023.
  20. ^ "The Deconstructive Materialism of Dwivedi and Mohan: A New Philosophy of Freedom". positions politics. Retrieved 11 February 2023.
  21. ^ "A French-style revolution alone can help India recover from its current caste stasis, says Prof Dwivedi - Asian News from UK". 18 October 2022. Retrieved 11 February 2023.
  22. ^ Mediapart, Les invités de. "In support of Divya Dwivedi and Shaj Mohan". Mediapart (in French). Retrieved 11 February 2023.
  23. ^ "On Freud's Group Psychology: A Debate". European Journal of Psychoanalysis. Retrieved 24 November 2022.
  24. ^ Mehta, Ashish (5 April 2019). "In search of Gandhi's answer to the question: 'What a human life should be', Interview". Governance Now.
  25. ^ "Une nuit de philosophie (1/4) : Philosopher en Inde". France Culture.
  26. ^ Cassin, Barbara (December 2017). "Issue N° 4-5: Intellectuals, Philosophers, Women in India: Endangered Species". Women Philosophers’ Journal. Archived from the original on 22 July 2019. Retrieved 28 October 2022.
  27. ^ Confavreux, Joseph (27 May 2018). "Hindu nationalism and why 'being a philosopher in India can get you killed'". mediapart.fr.
  28. ^ "Amid changing nature of sex as an activity, debates over Raya Sarkar's list represent post-colonial binaries". Firstpost. 5 November 2017.
  29. ^ "N° 4-5 / December 2017 Intellectuals, Philosophers, Women in India: Endangered Species". www.unesco.org.
  30. ^ "Philosophy for Another Time; Towards a Collective Political Imagination". positions politics. Retrieved 12 March 2021.
  31. ^ "Gandhi and Philosophy". Bloomsbury Academic.
  32. ^ "Book Excerpt: What different theories of philosophy tell us about Gandhi's experiments with truth". Scroll.in.
  33. ^ "Gandhi's Experiments with Hypophysics". Frontline.
  34. ^ Singh, Siddharth (27 September 2019). "A philosophical appraisal of Gandhi's outlook and ideas". Open Magazine.
  35. ^ "Gandhi's Hypophysics (Dwivedi)". Royal Institute of Philosophy: Public Lectures.
  36. ^ Dhanda, Meena (1 April 2020). "IV—Philosophical Foundations of Anti-Casteism". Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society. 120 (1): 71–96. doi:10.1093/arisoc/aoaa006. hdl:2436/623193. ISSN 0066-7374.
  37. ^ a b Sharma, Kritika (7 October 2019). "IIT-Delhi faculty calls Hindu religion a 20th century invention, triggers controversy". ThePrint. Retrieved 6 November 2022.
  38. ^ "En Inde, le mensuel « The Caravan » est harcelé par la police". Le Monde.fr (in French). 2 February 2021. Retrieved 6 November 2022.
  39. ^ "Los Angeles Review of Books". Los Angeles Review of Books. 8 January 2020. Retrieved 6 November 2022.
  40. ^ "Ce que l'hindouisme recouvre | Revue Esprit". Esprit Presse (in French). Retrieved 6 November 2022.
  41. ^ Reghu, co-authored by Divya Dwivedi,Shaj Mohan,J. "How upper castes invented a Hindu majority". The Caravan. Retrieved 6 November 2022.
  42. ^ Ballas, Anthony (1 February 2023). "As Universities Submit to Neoliberalism and Fascism, Workers Must Fight Back". Truthout. Retrieved 9 February 2023.
  43. ^ "En Inde, le mensuel « The Caravan » est harcelé par la police". Le Monde.fr (in French). 2 February 2021. Retrieved 6 November 2022.
  44. ^ "Cargo Cult Democracy: Interview with the philosopher Divya Dwivedi on democracy, caste, and the future of India". ILNA. Retrieved 6 November 2022.
  45. ^ "Divya Dwivedi : « En Inde, les minorités religieuses sont persécutées pour cacher que la véritable majorité, ce sont les castes inférieures »". Le Monde.fr (in French). 11 February 2022. Retrieved 6 November 2022.
  46. ^ "The Compassionate Revolution of Saint Stan Swamy (1937 – 2021)". The Wire. Retrieved 6 November 2022.
  47. ^ "Divya Dwivedi pledges support for research scholar protesting against university". English.Mathrubhumi. Retrieved 6 November 2022.
  48. ^ "Divya Dwivedi extends support to Anupama Chandran". English.Mathrubhumi. Retrieved 6 November 2022.
  49. ^ "Divya Dwivedi expresses concerns over Kerala film institute row". English.Mathrubhumi. Retrieved 9 February 2023.
  50. ^ a b Tankha, V. "Philosophizing Gandhi". The Book Review.
  51. ^ "Welcoming Divya Dwivedi and Shaj Mohan's Gandhi and Philosophy". positions politics. Retrieved 12 March 2021.
  52. ^ "Gandhi as Chrysalis for a New Philosophy". The Wire.
  53. ^ Suhrud, Tridip (17 August 2019). "'Gandhi and Philosophy – On Theological Anti-Politics' review: Leap of faith". The Hindu.
  54. ^ Raghuramaraju, A. "Gandhi in the Company of Western Philosophers". Economic and Political Weekly. 50, 50, 50, 50, 50, 54 (23, 23, 23, 23, 23, 31): 7, 7, 7, 7, 7–8, 8, 8, 8, 8.

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