The Christians of Kerala: History, Belief and Ritual among the Yakoba
The Christians of Kerala grew out of a theoretical engagement as well as an interest that emanated from the writer’s personal biography. The primary need to understand Christianity in Kerala and its resilience in the face of the dominant culture of Hinduism, the articulation of their identity and understanding the meanings of their rituals and beliefs was met through studying Christians in a small community located in Puthenangadi. It has been very insightful to read The Christians of Kerala in view of the methods used by the author in order to understand a community.
The author, well aware of her own background interestingly elaborates the search for a field. The articulation of a realization that Puthenangadi is an ideal field to further the author’s research interest gives interesting insights on how one should themselves choose a field area. The objectification of the neighborhood through the combination of perspectives of a photographer and a novelist and the moment of externalization emanates from the author’s engagement with her background and her theoretical readings.
This study is a detailed description of a community whose representations of a past are complicated and subjective. Segmentation of a community furthers the plurality of interpretations and this study emanates from an attempt to “record the pathologies a rising out of difference”. The author primarily bases her study on popular views and narratives which emerge from her intense engagement with the people of Puthenangadi based on conversations, observations as a spectator and participant observation. Background reading of “objective” and official histories of Christians also helped immensely in locating the narratives. People’s narratives provide parallel lines to ‘official’ versions. Narratives provide a different body of knowledge which articulates a more intense and immediate engagement with the...