Tuesday, December 28, 2010

[ZESTCaste] Caste matters for Christianity


2011 Issues > January 02, 2011

Caste matters for Christianity
By Manju Gupta

Margins of Faith: Dalit and Tribal Christianity in India, Rowena
Robinson, Joseph Marcanus Kujur, Sage Publications, Pp 299 (HB), Rs

THIS collection of papers by social anthropologists who are interested
greatly in religion, feel that Dalit and tribal Christianity are not
adequately treated in literature where they are independent
expressions of faith but are marginalised by mainstream Christianity,
regardless of denomination.

The Dalit and tribal Christianity has generally been presented
negatively, characterised more by their deficiencies in relation to
the dominant framework which is elite and Brahminical. Dalit
Christians were considered largely marginal. For one, the traditional
focus on caste Hinduism within the Brahminical or Sanskrit framework
tended to put the Dalits in the periphery. Moreover, Dalit religion
was characterised by what it 'lacked' in terms of the dominant
framework. Again, Dalit Christians were on the margins in actuality.
Mathew Schmalz, for instance, records how a distinction develops in
the North Indian context, describing the Catholic and the Chamar, as
the asli (real) and the phasali (trapped) Christian. The phasali
Christian is regarded as caught between Catholicism and

This volume revolves around the worlds of Dalit and tribal Christians,
who are deemed to be on the edge of the social world.

(Sage Publications India Pvt Ltd, B1/I-1 Mohan Cooperative Industrial
Area, Mathura Road, New Delhi-110044; www.sagepublications.com)


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