n Nidan : International Journal for Indian Studies - Subaltern counterpublics : Dalits and missionary Christianity in Kerala

Volume 4 Number 2
  • ISSN : 2414-8636



In this paper I wish to initiate an analysis of certain experiences of nineteenth and twentieth century Kerala particularly in the context of the Protestant missionary Christianity and its interface with Dalits to think through the ways in which a new public sphere emerged creating possibilities for the articulation of new ideas and perspectives of life that could be broadly referred to as social imaginaries, following, Charles Taylor (Taylor, 2003). Such new social imaginaries were significant in their defining of a possible good life that had a decisive effect on the lives of the slave castes in the succeeding decades. (Hunt, 1920: 191-206) Articulated in every day context of the exclusive congregations of slaves, the new ideas represented in the Bible became a powerful resource for the oppressed castes. The slave castes began to use the ideas derived from the Bible to organize their everyday life and their congregational gatherings created a public space which was not available to them in their past. Additionally, with the gradual spread of literacy they began to read the scriptures and subsequently print their own texts although that happened only in the twentieth century. In fact, such endeavors created an oppositional subaltern counterpublics in Kerala.

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