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Religious Interactions in Modern India$
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Martin Fuchs and Vasudha Dalmia

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198081685

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198081685.001.0001

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Dalit Liberative Identity as Amalgam

Dalit Liberative Identity as Amalgam

Kerala’s Pulaya Christians and Communist Movement in the Mid-Twentieth Century

(p.336) 12 Dalit Liberative Identity as Amalgam
Religious Interactions in Modern India

George Oommen

Oxford University Press

The chapter discusses post-conversion experiences and struggles of Dalits who had opted for Christianity, taking the case of Pulayas in Kerala, who had become members of the Anglican Church during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The change of religion led to new self-assessment and identity-seeking. Pulayas had major conflicts with Syrian Christians, including Christian landlords. Many Pulayas had then still the status of bonded labourers or even slaves (adiyan). After covering the early twentieth-century agitations to overcome their social degradation and exclusion from public spaces, the author focuses on the later involvement of Christian Pulayas with the Communist mobilization. Communist activists accepted water and food from the Pulayas. Finally, the chapter discusses the push of Pulaya Christians for a distinctive depressed-class administration within the Anglican Church, ending with the break-away of a large section of Dalit Christians from the Anglican Church and the start of a new church, the CMS Church, in 1968.

Keywords:   Dalit Christians, Christianity, Pulayas, Anglican Church, Syrian Christians, Christian landlords, Communist activists, CMS Church

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