Abstract: This paper addresses the academic conversation on Protestant missions to the Indigenous peoples of coastal British Columbia during the second half of the nine- teenth century through a consideration of the role of revivalist piety in the conversion of some of the better known Indigenous Methodist evangelists identified in the scholarly literature. The paper introduces the work of existing scholars critically illuminating the reasons (religious convergence and/or the want of symbolic and material resources) typically given for Indigenous, namely, Ts’msyen, conversion. It also introduces Methodist revivalist piety and its instantiation in British Columbia. And, finally, it offers a critical exploration of revivalist piety and its role in conversion as set within a broader theoretical inquiry into the academic study of ritual and religion.
ABSTRACT: A frequent pattern found among crypto-religious communities is that the rituals or beliefs held in secret are transmitted primarily by women, from mothers to daughters. This paper examines a small community of women in south India, the secret Christians of Sivakasi, in order to investigate why these women chose to maintain a delicate, and at times dangerous, balance between their outward observance of Hindu rituals and their inner, private adherence to Christianity. By contextualizing these Nadar women’s lives in the vexed history of caste conflict in late nineteenth-century south India, I show that women in this upwardly mobile Hindu community found in clandestine Christian circles a means of securing a limited autonomy in an intensely patriarchal milieu, especially as their lives became increasingly circumscribed by Brahmanical customs. Georg Simmel and Paul Christopher Johnson’s analyses of the affective dynamics of secrecy illuminate the complex motivations for women’s involvement in these groups, in spite of the risks, and help explain why the conjugal bond becomes the focus of so much attention in the narratives of Secret Christians. By identifying features that distinguish crypto-religiosity, a relatively rare but distinctive outcome of religious encounter, in dialogue with Maurus Reinkowski and Joel Robbins’s work, I hope to make this category more useful, and push our understanding of the complexities of religious change beyond the well-known dyad of conversion and syncretism.