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January 02, 2011




Page: 25/38

Home > 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 695.00

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 ‘untouchability’.

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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