Wednesday, November 13

How the British and American Missionaries converted Nagaland

this dissertation is a good overview of how Nagaland moved from a tribal animist society to a Christian society, how the rules of nationhood entwined closely with religions aspects and the prospects thereof.

  I quote

John Thomas’ dissertation, Missionaries, Church and the Formation of Naga Political Identity, 1918-1997, historicizes the formation of Naga political identity. It examines the intersection of religious and national identity in the formation of the Naga self by critically evaluating missionary, colonial, and nationalist representations of Naga political identity. Thomas is critical of a particular theological perspective, produced by American and Naga Baptist missionaries that mediated this identity formation. This theological perspective is based on a particular interpretation of Christianity based on a fundamentalist variety of Evangelical Christianity that emphasizes “ahistorical and fundamentalist reading of the Bible; solely interested in questions of personal sin, morality and salvation; aggressively exclusive in relating with secular ideologies and other religious faiths; and yet supportive of preserving the existing status quo” (p. 10). This kind of fundamentalist, evangelica understanding imposes a particular religious identity on national identity “wherein being an evangelical Christian increasingly becomes a pre-requisite towards being a Naga” (p. 10). Therefore, this theology is limited by a narrow focus on individual salvation, which reiterates a colonial logic of “saving the savage,” thereby taming the understanding of the Naga self. As such, it is inadequate to understand the complexities of the social, political and cultural specificity of the Naga situation, Thomas argues.

More crap is being pumped in across the country further fanning flames in AP, Orissa, etc. etc. But then again, they should be allowed to preach. Freedom of speech is absolute. Still you wonder if this is really helpful when such a complex tribal animist persona is now being subsumed into being seen solely via a fundamentalist christian worldview. Sad

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