This volume documents the ethnographies of regionally distinct Dalit and tribal Christian communities, raising new arguments pertaining to the autonomy and distinct identity of these communities in adverse social set-ups.

Stressing upon the plurality of identities, the essays reject the idea of determining these exclusively on the basis of religion. They also chart the multiple levels of marginality experienced by both Dalit and tribal Christians and analyze how these groups negotiate their former religious faith and practices with Christianity.

The book is a response to the urgent need for such studies in social science writings brought to the fore by contemporary political challenges and struggles facing these communities in various parts of India.

Margins of Faith: Dalits and Tribal Christians in Eastern India

Margins of Faith: Dalits and Tribal Christians in Eastern India

Margins of faith: Dalits and tribal Christians in eastern India


A discussion on the religious life of a society tends to assume that there are two types of religion: the ‘popular’ and the ‘elite’. Popular or folk religion is that of the masses, the pervasive beliefs, rituals and values of a society, whereas elite religion is that of the specialists, the learned or the clergy. Studies on the growth of Christianity in different cultural contexts have highlighted that Christianity, and Catholicism in particular, usually enmeshes with local cultures, appropriates local myths, compromises with local traditions and even borrows local beliefs and superstitions.

Most Christian communities in India have retained some or other of their pre-conversion culture and ...

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