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Community and Worldview among Paraiyars of South India: 'Lived' Religion (Bloomsbury Advances in Religious Studies) [Kindle Edition]

Anderson H. M. Jeremiah
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

This volume presents a detailed ethnographic study of rural Paraiyar communities in South India, focusing on their religions and cultural identity. Formerly known as Dalits, or Untouchables, these are a largely socially marginalised group living within a dynamic and complex social matrix dominated by the caste system and its social and religious implications in India.

Through examining Paraiyar Christian communities, the author provides a comprehensive understanding of Paraiyar religious worldviews within the dominant Hindu religious worldview. In contrast to existing research, this volume places the Paraiyars within their wider social context, ascribed and achieved identity, religious symbolism and ritual and negotiation of social boundaries.
In arguing that the Paraiyars help us to understand religion as 'lived', the author removes the concept 'religion' from the reified forms it so often obtains in textbooks. Instead, Jeremiah demonstrates that it is only in local and specific contexts, as opposed to essentialised notions, that 'religion' either makes any sense or that theories concerning it can be tested.

Product Description


Written with the sensitivity of an insider-priest, and the enquiring insight of an ethnographer this book is a welcome addition to studies on the social and religious lives of Dalit Christians. It captures some of the unexpected ways in which Christianity is lived through relationships in a south Indian Dalit village. -- David Mosse, Professor of Social Anthropology, School of Oriental & African Studies, University of London, UK, and author of The Saint in the Banyan Tree: Christianity and Caste Society in India Much dalit theology evolves in urban-based academia which, as in many a rank-ordered context, sets aside the thoughts and reflections of rural poor as unformed ignorance. Jeremiah starts from the theology of agricultural workers and brick-makers, evolved in their experience, coming to sober conclusions which do not always sit well with a Christianity run by (and for?) the relatively privileged. -- Elizabeth Koepping, Associate Director, CSWC School of Divinity, University of Edinburgh, UK An important contribution to the study of the religious world of the Dalit Christians -- Pavel Hons, Research Fellow, Oriental Institute, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic Journal of African and Asian Studies

About the Author

Anderson H M Jeremiah is Lecturer in World Christianity, Department of Politics, Philosophy and Religion at Lancaster University, UK.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 483 KB
  • Print Length: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic; 1 edition (20 Dec. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,355,755 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
By David
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I assume all those with an interest in social justice already have.

At times, heart wrenching, mind blowing and eye opening this detailed account of the religious, social and cultural life of the Paraiyars of South India, is informed by personal heritage, lived experience, keen observation and an outstanding breadth of academic reference.

On the back of a cross-clad motorcycle the author explores how Christianity can be (and is being) used to subvert as well as uphold oppressive social structures. Jeremiah defies the instructions of those in positions of power, sharing meals with alcoholics, 'sinners' and the socially-unclean. Breaking bread with those considered to be untouchable even by the untouchables the author observes the lived-religion and social context of some of the world's most oppressed people. In a 'festival of lights' the reader is exposed to the complex interplay between social heritage, the cast system, and both Hindu and Christian influences. The replication of oppressive social structures within the church and within the community and world view of the Paraiyars is revealed through personal encounter and detailed analysis furthering understanding of how oppression and social-immobility is maintained.

This book should be a wake-up call for all those in positions of power and authority in the church as well as those concerned with social justice. It opens the readers eyes to the injustice of the cast system and the role of religion and religious institutions in both subverting and also (unfortunately) perpetuating that injustice. The theology of the suffering servant and the cross can be used to support those in their hour of need or ensure they remain there.
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