Social transformation of Dalits under colonialism was the central issue addressed in this study. The mid-nineteenth-century witnessed the beginning of protestant missionary work among the slave castes and, in the subsequent decades, thousands of them joined missionary churches. One of the major events of the mid-nineteenth-century, important not just for the slave castes, but for the entire society was the formal abolition of slavery in 1855. However, this particular event or its aftermath was never recognized as important in the historiography of Kerala. Even after the formal abolition of slavery the slave castes continued to suffer from many indignities and deprivations that their structural position in the caste hierarchy perpetuated, well into the second half of the twentieth-century. Under colonial modernity, there emerged a variety of Dalit social movements in the twentieth-century. The issues that had been central to Dalit social movements were left out in the dominant historiographies—Marxist, liberal and traditional—of Kerala.
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