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Haj to Utopia

How the Ghadar Movement Charted Global Radicalism and Attempted to Overthrow the British Empire

Maia Ramnath

Publication Year: 2011

In The Haj to Utopia, Maia Ramnath tells the dramatic story of Ghadar, the Indian anticolonial movement that attempted overthrow of the British Empire. Founded by South Asian immigrants in California, Ghadar—which is translated as "mutiny"—quickly became a global presence in East Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and East Africa. Ramnath brings this epic struggle to life as she traces Ghadar’s origins to the Swadeshi Movement in Bengal, its establishment of headquarters in Berkeley, California, and its fostering by anarchists in London, Paris, and Berlin. Linking Britain’s declaration of war on Germany in 1914 to Ghadar’s declaration of war on Britain, Ramnath vividly recounts how 8,000 rebels were deployed from around the world to take up the battle in Hindustan. The Haj to Utopia demonstrates how far-flung freedom fighters managed to articulate a radical new world order out of seemingly contradictory ideas.

Published by: University of California Press

Series: California World History Library


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pp. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-vi


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pp. vii-viii

List of Maps

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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xii

...Of the many people who contributed to this writing, thanks are due fi rst to Terry Burke, Dilip Basu, Gene Irschick, Radhika Mongia, and Barbara Epstein, all advisors and mentors at the University of California, Santa Cruz and Berkeley, for equipping my sense of context and helping me to make so many connections, while also granting me your confi dence and trust to go in unorthodox directions. (Barbara, you continued to insist that you...


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pp. xiii-xiv

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pp. 1-16

...an ardently revolutionary newspaper emanating from San Francisco to reach a readership of overseas Indians in East Asia, North and South America, Mesopotamia, and East Africa: “O Warriors! The opportunity you have been looking for has arrived.” The prodigal children of Hindustan were summoned to return home and fight, for the battle of liberation was at hand. The message of the...

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1. "The Air of Freedom": Ghadar in America

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pp. 17-33

...There had been a smattering of Indian sailors in New England ports since the late eighteenth century, and the odd celebrity religious philosopher since the late nineteenth, starting with Vivekananda’s star turn at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1892, which garnered a cult following of theosophists and countercultural practitioners among a northeastern elite. Meanwhile, the flow of indentured labor to...

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2. Our Name Is Our Work: The Syndicalist Ghadar

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pp. 34-69

...Almost immediately the Ghadar propaganda tours hit the fields. Kartar Singh Sarabha was particularly inspired in generating publicity, said Behari Lal, arranging meetings such as the one in Yolo that he describes here: “A good number” of farm workers gathered around, sitting on the ground around him and his kinsman. “They sat quietly and I said a few things. Then Har Dayal talked about...

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3. Enemies of Enemies . . . : The Nationalist Ghadar

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pp. 70-94

...It is a truism for theorists of nationalism (and even for common observers of the world) that the rhetoric of nationalism, and the emotionality of patriotism, increase drastically during war time. The Great War introduced a hitherto unimaginable scale of confl ict as the great empires collided and began ripping each other apart. National identities took over for the duration, breaking up the ideal...

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4. . . . and Friends: The Republican Ghadar

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pp. 95-122

...Though the Germans were willing to fund schemes and initiatives, they lacked a nuanced understanding of the goals of their various benefactees. In an alliance formed of statist thinking, they were in starkest terms the enemies of the enemy. But the partisans of two other major national liberation struggles whom the Germans were supporting, running along timelines...

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5. Toilers of the East: The Communist Ghadar

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pp. 123-165

...Th e results of the Great War, including the reconfiguration of the Ottoman, German, and Austro- Hungarian empires, combined with the Rus sian upheaval, drastically altered the conditions in which transnational anticolonial revolutionaries functioned at the global level and within both American and Indian domestic contexts. This is the moment at which it...

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6. "Dear Muhammedan Brothers": The Khilafatist Ghadar

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pp. 166-193

...We have been tracking the evolution of a unique organization that shift ed in form in a dramatically changing global context while still remaining consistent in its agenda and principles of progressive radical democracy, political libertarianism, and economic egalitarianism. But a constant counterpoint throughout this period was another movement without which we cannot understand Ghadar’s ability to communicate and translate relevant concepts from one discourse to another, nor the internal diversity of rationalist and...

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7. Lal Salaams: Ghadar and the Bolshevik Muhajirin

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pp. 194-232

...And what could listeners do about this? he asked rhetorically. Well, for a start, one might win over the Indian sepoys. He closed with this exhortation: “Long live the working classes! Long live the Soviet and Lenin! Long live Islam and the true followers of Islam...

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pp. 233-238

...The arc of Ghadar’s narrative paused for breath but did not stop at the threshold of the 1930s, with the Meerut and Lahore Conspiracy cases, the deaths of Bhagat Singh, Rajguru, and Sukhdev, and a new round of struggle in the Chittagong Armoury raids and the Civil Disobedience movement. Although Ghadar- linked activists were doing their work through other names and formations, even in 1931 British intelligence issued an alert that rehearsed a pattern that had remained remarkably consistent for fifteen years: vague...


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pp. 239-302


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pp. 303-312


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pp. 313-327

Production Notes

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pp. 328-328

E-ISBN-13: 9780520950399
Print-ISBN-13: 9780520269545

Page Count: 332
Publication Year: 2011

Series Title: California World History Library
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OCLC Number: 848087636
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Haj to Utopia

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Hindustan Gadar Party -- History -- 20th century.
  • India -- Politics and government -- 20th century.
  • India -- History -- Autonomy and independence movements.
  • Nationalism -- History -- 20th century.
  • Social movements -- History -- 20th century.
  • Political activists -- History -- 20th century.
  • Social reformers -- History -- 20th century.
  • Revolutionaries -- History -- 20th century.
  • World politics -- 1900-1918.
  • World politics -- 1919-1932.
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