Christianity and Politics in Tribal India
Landlocked and relatively inaccessible, the mountain state of Nagaland in north-east India has, within a century of missionary contact, become the most Baptist state in the world. Nearly 80 per cent of Nagaland’s two million people are devout Christian adherents of this sect. This makes Nagaland the religious outlier of India – a country in which about 80 per cent of the population is Hindu.
How has this come to be? G. Kanato Chophy chronicles the historical and socio-cultural processes by which Naga tribals – known a century ago as “primitive headhunters” – were transformed into a vibrant and politically assertive community of the Christian faith in colonial and post-Independence India.
Besides outlining the role of British colonialists and developments in Victorian religious policy, this book analyses the remarkable success of American Baptist missions of the nineteenth century in a backwater of the British Raj. It shows that even as the power of Christianity has declined in the secular West, the culture and politics of Nagaland continue to be strengthened by Baptist ideas of Jesus within a country increasingly majoritarian and suspicious of “alien” faiths.
Analysing the peculiarly unapologetic and assertive strain of the Baptist faith in Nagaland, this book also speculates on the future of Protestant missions and the American evangelical movement in this ardently anomalous state of India.
G. KANATO CHOPHY is a post-doctoral fellow at the Centre of Excellence, Centre of North East India Studies, Utkal University, Bhubaneswar.
After a PhD in social anthropology from the University of Delhi, he taught at the Central University of Jharkhand in Central India. His special interest is the history and social life of Indian tribes, and he is the author of Constructing the Divine: Religion and Worldview of a Naga Tribe in North-East India (Routledge, 2019).
He wrote the present work on Naga Baptists and ethnic groups of the Indo–Myanmar frontier as a Fellow of the New India Foundation.
Reviews and related articles“Richly researched and stylishly written, Kanato Chophy’s social history of Naga Christianity is a major contribution to the literature on a vital, fascinating, yet massively under-studied part of South Asia. This book will be read, and its arguments debated, for years to come.”RAMACHANDRA GUHA
Read G. Kanato Chophy's blog about the making of this book here
Paperback/ 478 pages
This book was originated and edited here at Permanent Black, and we have sold rights for the world except South Asia to State University of New York Press (SUNY) which will publish it for North America and elsewhere.
In the Hedgehog and Fox Series, co-published with Ashoka University
Copublished with the New India Foundation
Jacket photo from Unsplash, by Tiachen Aier/ Courtesy of Lalsawmliani Tochhawng
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