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The Saint in the Banyan tree: Christianity and Caste Society in India

Mosse, David (2012) The Saint in the Banyan tree: Christianity and Caste Society in India. Berkeley: University of California Press. (The Anthropology of Christianity. A Philip E. Lilienthal Book in Asian Studies)

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Abstract

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.

Item Type: Authored Books
SOAS Departments & Centres: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Department of Anthropology and Sociology
ISBN: 9780520273498
Depositing User: David Mosse
Date Deposited: 06 May 2009 09:33
URI: http://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/7292

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