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CHRISTIANS AND PUBLIC LIFE IN COLONIAL SOUTH INDIA, 1863–1937

This study brings together two threads of personal interest: an interest in the history of Christian movements in India, and an interest in public expressions of religion in the modern world. Existing scholarship has raised important questions about conversion, relationships of Christians (both Catholic and non-Catholic) to indigenous institutions and belief systems, and the precise nature of the missionary encounter with local culture. Secular scholarship is supplemented by a vast amount of theological literature dealing with similar kinds of questions. A prevailing concern in such work is the extent to which expressions of Christianity have become genuinely “Indian,” in spite of relationships they may have had with foreign missionary societies. This study addresses similar dialectics between Christianity and different notions of “Indian-ness.” Its main point of departure, however, lies in its attempt to move these dialectics away from the realm of “traditional culture” and into the realm of modern institutions that comprised an evolving “public sphere” in South India. Methods and priorities of cultural anthropologists, theologians or Church historians give way to a different set of lenses, geared toward workings of law, politics, and print media.

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