Christianity and Politics in Tribal India

Baptist Missionaries and Naga Nationalism

By G. Kanato Chophy

Subjects: History Of Religion, Sociology Of Religion, India And South Asian Studies, Indigenous Studies, Anthropology Of Religion
Hardcover : 9781438485812, 478 pages, November 2021
Paperback : 9781438485829, 478 pages, July 2022

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Table of contents

Illustrations and Maps

Introduction: One Faith, Many Ethnicities

1. The Empire and the Pearly Gates

2. The Baptist Highland

3. Heirs of the New Faith

4. Some Converts are More Equal than Others

5. Exotic Natives No More

6. Legends, Mystics, and Converts

7. The Baptist Intellectuals

8. Pragmatists and Idealists

9. Guns, the Bible, and the Little Red Book

Conclusion: Naga Baptists 2.0


Chronicles the astonishing and counterintuitive spread of Christianity among a group of previously isolated tribes in a remote and hilly part of Northeastern India.


Through an ethnohistorical study of the Nagas—a congeries of tribes inhabiting the Indo-Myanmar frontier—this book explores an unusually interesting region of India that is all too often seen as peripheral. G. Kanato Chophy provides a distinct vantage point for understanding the Nagas in relation to colonialism, missionary encounters, identity politics, and cultural change, all seamlessly woven around American Baptist mission history in this region. The book also analyses India's cacophonous postindependence democracy in order to delineate multifaith issues, multiculturalism, and ethnicity-based political movements.

Within the West, episodic memories of the "Great Awakening," a significant landmark in the history of Protestantism, have faded into archival records. But among the Nagas of the Indo-Myanmar highlands, Baptist Christianity persists as the dominant religion, influencing the daily lives of nearly three million people. Focusing variously on evangelical faith, missionary zeal, ethnic identities, political struggle, and complex culture wars, Christianity and Politics in Tribal India is an original and major study of how Protestant missions changed the history and destiny of a tribal community in one of the unlikeliest regions of South Asia.

G. Kanato Chophy is a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Centre of North-East India Studies at Utkal University, Bhubaneswar. He is the author of Constructing the Divine: Religion and World View of a Naga Tribe in North-East India.