Christians and Missionaries in India: Cross-Cultural Communication since 1500, with Special Reference to Caste, Conversion, and Colonialism

Christians and Missionaries in India: Cross-Cultural Communication since 1500, with Special Reference to Caste, Conversion, and Colonialism

Christians and Missionaries in India: Cross-Cultural Communication since 1500, with Special Reference to Caste, Conversion, and Colonialism

Christians and Missionaries in India: Cross-Cultural Communication since 1500, with Special Reference to Caste, Conversion, and Colonialism

Synopsis

This interesting volume challenges the long-held assumption that Christianity in India is nothing but a colonial or Western imposition. Leading experts here chronicle the histories and cultures of Indias many Christian communities and show that local Indian leaders were the real agents of religious change in the subcontinent. These chapters range widely over various facets of Indian society and its religious developments. Of crucial importance is the fact that in exploring their subjects the contributors take pains to avoid the Eurocentric nature of most studies of India and represent Christianity from a genuinely Indocentric perspective. The result is an entirely new vista from which to view the history, features, and influence of Indian Christianity. Contributors: Peter B. Andersen Michael Bergunder Marine Carrin Penelope Carson Gunnel Cederlof Robert Eric Frykenberg E. M. Jackson Heike Liebau Iwona Milewska Geoffrey A. Oddie Indira Viswanathan Peterson Avril Powell Paula Richman Jayeeta Sharma Harald Tambs-Lyche Richard Fox Young

Excerpt

Robert Eric Frykenberg

Not surprisingly, the pervasive assumption that Christianity in India is nothing more than a Western, European, or "colonial" imposition is again open to challenge. Nevertheless, despite this being so, many of those who think and write about India all too of ten forget, or else are unaware of the fact, that Christianity has always been, in some measure, a non-Western religion; that in India this has always been so; and that there are now more Christians in the "non-West" (Africa and Asia) than in the West. Recognizing that, until very recently, most studies of Christians in India have been heavily Eurocentric, both in content and in tone, chapters contained within this volume attempt to subject this long-standing bias to closer scrutiny and provide perspectives that are more Indocentric. Realizing that many more studies, yielding deeper and wider understandings, of many different Christian communities in India will be needed before a truly comprehensive history of Christianity in India can be written, each chapter here is an attempt to address some particular aspect of cultural cross-contact and communication with special reference to

1. Roger E. Hedlund, ed., Christianity's Indian: the Emergence of an Indigenous Com
munity
(Delhi, 2000), covers a wide range of perspectives on many different Christian
communities, from ancient Thomas Christians to various local tribal Christian communi
ties. Each essay emphasizes the essentially Indian character of Christianity in India.

With due apologies to those who study Christians in other parts of India, evidence, exam
ples, and illustrations in this introduction are largely restricted to South India, which is
best known to the author.

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