Roberts, “To Be Cared For: The Power of Conversion and Foreignness of Belonging in an Indian Slum”

Roberts, Nathaniel. 2016. To be cared for: the power of conversion and foreignness of belonging in an Indian slum. Oakland, California : University of California Press.

Publisher’s Description: To Be Cared For offers a unique view into the conceptual and moral world of slum-bound Dalits (“untouchables”) in the South Indian city of Chennai. Focusing on the decision by many women to embrace locally specific forms of Pentecostal Christianity, Nathaniel Roberts challenges dominant anthropological understandings of religion as a matter of culture and identity, as well as Indian nationalist narratives of Christianity as a “foreign” ideology that disrupts local communities. Far from being a divisive force, conversion integrates the slum community—Christians and Hindus alike—by addressing hidden moral fault lines that subtly pit residents against one another in a national context that renders Dalits outsiders in their own land.

Bauman and Fox Young, eds, “Constructing Indian Christianities”

Bauman, Chad M. and Richard Fox Young, eds. Constructing Indian Christianities: Culture, Conversion and Caste.  New Dehli: Routledge India.

Publisher’s Description: This volume offers insights into the current ‘public-square’ debates on Indian Christianity. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork as well as rigorous analyses, it discusses the myriad histories of Christianity in India, its everyday practice and contestations and the process of its indigenisation. It addresses complex and pertinent themes such as Dalit Indian Christianity, diasporic nationalism and conversion. The work will interest scholars and researchers of religious studies, Dalit and subaltern studies, modern Indian history, and politics.

Contents:

Introduction Chad M. Bauman and Richard Fox Young.

Part 1. Who and What is an Indian Christian?

1. Godparents and the Mother’s Brother: ‘Spiritual’ Parenthood among the Latin Catholics of Kerala, South India Miriam Benteler

2. Between Christian and Hindu: Khrist Bhaktas, Catholics and the Negotiation of Devotion in the Banaras Region Kerry P. C. San Chirico

3.Interlocking Caste with Congregation: A Political Necessity for Dalit Christians in Andhra, South India? Ashok Kumar M.

Part 2. Whose Religion is Indian Christianity?

4. Late 16th– and Early 17th-Century Contestations of Catholic Christianity at the Mughal Court Gulfishan Khan

5. Authority, Patronage and Customary Practices: Protestant Devotion and the Development of the Tamil Hymn in Colonial South India Hephzibah Israel

6. From Christian Ashrams to Dalit Theology — or Beyond? An Examination of the Indigenisation/Inculturation Trend within the Indian Catholic Church Xavier Gravend-Tirole

7. Taking the Cross and Walking from Subalternity to Modernity James Ponniah

Part 3.Can Christianity be Indian?

8. Times of Trouble for Christians in Hindu and Muslim Societies of South Asia Georg Pfeffer

9. The Interreligious Riot as a Cultural System: Globalisation, Geertz and Hindu–Christian Conflict Chad M. Bauman

10. Studied Silences? Diasporic Nationalism, ‘Kshatriya Intellectuals’ and the Hindu American Critique of Dalit Christianity’s Indianness Richard Fox Young and Sundar John Boopalan.

Afterword I Anne E. Monius.

Afterword II Rowena Robinson.

Mosse, “The Saint in the Banyan Tree”

Mosse, David.  2012.  The Saint in the Banyan Tree: Christianity and Caste Society in India.  Berkeley: University of California Press.

Publisher’s Description: The Saint in the Banyan Tree is a nuanced and historically persuasive exploration of Christianity’s remarkable trajectory as a social and cultural force in southern India. Starting in the seventeenth century, when the religion was integrated into Tamil institutions of caste and popular religiosity, this study moves into the twentieth century, when Christianity became an unexpected source of radical transformation for the country’s ‘untouchables’ (dalits). Mosse shows how caste was central to the way in which categories of ‘religion’ and ‘culture’ were formed and negotiated in missionary encounters, and how the social and semiotic possibilities of Christianity lead to a new politic of equal rights in South India. Skillfully combining archival research with anthropological fieldwork, this book examines the full cultural impact of Christianity on Indian religious, social and political life. Connecting historical ethnography to the preoccupations of priests and Jesuit social activists, Mosse throws new light on the contemporary nature of caste, conversion, religious synthesis, secularization, dalit politics, the inherent tensions of religious pluralism, and the struggle for recognition among subordinated people.

Misra, “The Missionary Position”

Misra, Amalendu (2011) “The Missionary Position: Christianity and Politics of Religious Conversion in India,” Nationalism and Ethnic Politics  17(4):361-381

Abstract: The purpose of this article is to critically examine the politics of religious conversion in India. Since Christianity is the main religion espousing and conducting conversion in ever-larger numbers in India, my focus, in the following pages, is to interrogate the debate surrounding this particular undertaking and the attendant conflict dynamics. This study is organized according to the following framework. First, it situates religious conversion in the context of radical Hindu nationalism. Second, it explores the issue of religious conversion in the theories of identity and globalization. Third, it probes the specifics of Christian conversion in India and investigates the issue within the framework of identity politics and secularism. Fourth, it examines the response and reaction of the radical Hindu nationalists towards religious conversion in general and Christian conversion in particular from the perspective of ethno-religious nationalism. Fifth and finally, it evaluates the dimensions of conflict between Christians and Hindus and how they are played out in the shared social arena.

In conclusion, this article stresses that religious conversion in India is a form of a socioeconomic emancipatory undertaking. Those who feel stifled by the discriminatory caste order prevalent within Hinduism and live a marginal existence embrace this new identity. In the same breath it argues that Christianity in general, and Christian missionaries in particular, have courted criticism, opposition, and violence from radical Hindus, informed citizenry, and the institution of the state, as they are considered an “external other”—accused of undermining the complex sociopolitical order in the country.