Popular Christianity in India

Riting between the Lines

Edited by Selva J. Raj & Corinne G. Dempsey

Subjects: Asian Studies
Series: SUNY series in Hindu Studies
Paperback : 9780791455203, 303 pages, October 2002
Hardcover : 9780791455197, 303 pages, October 2002

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Table of contents


Foreword: The View from the Other Side: Postpostcolonialism, Religious Syncretism, and Class Conflict
Wendy Doniger

1. Introduction: Between, Behind, and Beyond the Lines
Selva J. Raj and Corinne G. Dempsey

I. Festivals and Rituals: Forging Hybrid Christian Identities

2. Chariots of the God/s: Riding the Line Between Hindu and Christian
Joanne Punzo Waghorne

3. The Ganges, the Jordan, and the Mountain: The Three Strands of Santal Popular Catholicism
Selva J. Raj

4. Past Selves and Present Others: The Ritual Construction of Identity at a Catholic Festival in India
Margaret Meibohm

5. Transgressing Boundaries, Transcending Turner: The Pilgrimage Tradition at the Shrine of St. John de Britto
Selva J. Raj

II. Saints and Wonderworkers: Healing Disease and Division

6. Lessons in Miracles from Kerala, South India: Stories of Three "Christian" Saints
Corinne G. Dempsey

7. Finding a Path in Others' Worlds: The Challenge of Exorcism
Richard D. MacPhail

8. Charismatic Transgressions: The Life and Work of an Indian Catholic Healer
Mathew N. Schmalz

III. Visionaries and Missionaries: Redefining Religious Authority

9. Redemptive Hegemony and the Ritualization of Reading
Eliza F. Kent

10. Missionary Strategy and the Development of the Christian Community: Delhi 1859–1884
John C. B. Webster

11. Dalit Theology in Tamil Christian Folk Music: A Transformative Liturgy by James Theophilus Appavoo
Zoe C. Sherinian

12. Afterword: Diverse Hindu Responses to Diverse Christianities in India
Vasudha Narayanan



Explores the lived experience of Christianity in India.


Popular Christianity in India explores Indian Christianity as crafted and expressed through lived experience, providing an important balance to currently available, typically theological, studies. Drawing from many disciplines, this volume unearths the multifaceted terrain of festivals, rituals, saints, miracle workers, missionaries, and visionaries in Christian India, providing a wonderful glimpse of its richness and complexities. The contributors reveal the ways in which local Christian traditions deftly challenge assumed divisions and power imbalances between East and West, Hindu and Christian, foreign and indigenous, and elite and local expressions. Whether forging complicated religious, caste, and national identities, employing religious hybridity to promote well-being, or asserting autonomy within oppressive social and religious structures, local Christianity provides a crucial means for its participants to manage their earthly needs and desires.

Selva J. Raj, Chair and Associate Professor of Religious Studies, is the Stanley S. Kresge Professor of Religious Studies at Albion College. Corinne G. Dempsey is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and the author of Kerala Christian Sainthood: Collisions of Culture and Worldview in South India.


"…this is a worthwhile addition to the study of Indian religions. " — Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

"The authors draw on their own fresh and original fieldwork and research and give us data and insights that are unlikely to be found elsewhere. A remarkable milestone, this volume fills an important niche in the study of India and will be of great value. " — Francis X. Clooney, S. J. , author of Seeing through Texts: Doing Theology among the Srivaisnava of South India