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Linda Hess

Linda Hess

Conference Speaker for the Gandhi-King Global Initiative (GKGI) Conference: The Uplift of All: Gandhi, King, and the Global Struggle for Freedom and Justice; October 11-13, 2019

Linda Hess taught in the Department of Religious Studies at Stanford for 21 years, retiring in 2017. Her research and writing are on devotional/mystical poetry and performance in North India--especially the 15th-century poet Kabir, who remains a popular and influential figure in India and Pakistan. She is a translator of Kabir and has published three books on his poetry in written, oral, and musical forms, and on his importance in religious, social and political contexts. She has lived in India for a total of about twelve years. Linda’s courses at Stanford approached religions of South Asia from many angles, including religious poetry and epic literature, ritual and performance, music, women and gender, histories of specific traditions, and history of yoga. Because of lifelong concern and activism related to violence, nonviolence, and justice, she developed a number of courses that examined these matters in relation to religion. “Religious Perspectives on Violence & Nonviolence, War & Peace” presented a weekly series of lectures spanning multiple religious traditions, offered for credit and open to the public. “Hindus and Muslims in South Asia” examined communal identities, conflict, and coexistence. For many years she taught “Gandhi and Nonviolence,” eventually developing it into a wide-ranging course entitled “Gandhi and His Legacy: Violence and Nonviolence in the World and in Ourselves.” She co-taught a course on Gandhi and King with Prof. Clayborne Carson, and in 2008 they co-led a 3-week summer seminar in India where students explored Gandhi’s legacy.  In her last four years at Stanford she co-directed the Peace+Justice Studies Initiative.


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