Subaltern Counter-Publics: Dalits and Missionary Christianity in Kerala

Missionary Christianity in Kerala, contrary to the received notions in social sciences, offered a new language of internal deliberations to Dalits and provided them agency different from their position in the traditional caste society. The exclusive congregations of Dalits in fact worked as a ‘subaltern counter publics’ offering them new ideas and social practices. It was in this context that ideas of salvation and liberation became significant categories of thought to engage with the caste society and structures of oppression. In the proposed paper the speaker wishes to explore the myriad ways in which Dalits productively engaged with Christianity and transformed themselves. This enables a critique of the instrumentalist interpretation of the Dalit Christianity offered by a dominant section of the historians and social anthropologists writing on Dalits and Christianity in Kerala and India.