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A Matter of Belief
Christian Conversion and Healing in North-East India
328 pages, 36 illus., 4 maps, bibliog., index
ISBN 978-0-85745-595-6 $120.00/£85.00 Hb Published (September 2012)
eISBN 978-0-85745-673-1 eBook
“The book is clearly written and well researched, and offers a wealth of extremely interesting information on religion and ethnomedicine…This would be a good selection for collections focused on religion and ethnography or on traditional/indigenous healing systems in the contemporary era.” · Choice
“This is a book that deserves to be read widely by students of indigenous medicine and articulations of Christianity worldwide. Its focus on the intimate politics of the body distinguishes it from anthropological studies of Christianity that emphasise more overtly political interactions between modern states, missions and colonised peoples. Such a focus on the politics of the body opens up exciting possibilities of cutting-edge scholarship on the intimacies of everyday Christianity in Asia and beyond.” · Social Anthropology/Anthropologie sociale
‘Nagaland for Christ’ and ‘Jesus Saves’ are familiar slogans prominently displayed on public transport and celebratory banners in Nagaland, north-east India. They express an idealization of Christian homogeneity that belies the underlying tensions and negotiations between Christian and non-Christian Naga. This religious division is intertwined with that of healing beliefs and practices, both animistic and biomedical. This study focuses on the particular experiences of the Angami Naga, one of the many Naga peoples. Like other Naga, they are citizens of the state of India but extend ethnolinguistically into Tibeto-Burman south-east Asia. This ambiguity and how it affects their Christianity, global involvement, indigenous cultural assertiveness and nationalist struggle is explored. Not simply describing continuity through change, this study reveals the alternating Christian and non-Christian streams of discourse, one masking the other but at different times and in different guises.
Vibha Joshi was a research fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity in Göttingen, Germany, from 2009–11 and is presently a research associate at the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Oxford University, where she gained her doctorate in social anthropology. She has conducted extensive fieldwork in Nagaland, northeastern India, since 1985.
Subject: General Anthropology Religion
List of maps, tables and diagrams
List of illustrations
Chapter 1. A Mountainous State
Chapter 2. Classifying Spirit and Sickness
Chapter 3. Religion of Practice
Chapter 4. Traditional Healers
Chapter 5. A Brief History of Christian Evangelization in the Naga Hills
Chapter 6. Contemporary Christianity and the Healing Spirit
Chapter 7. Church and Healing
Appendix I: Bibliographical Essay
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