Christianity and Citizenship in India

Project Details


This was funding made available by the Knowledge Exchange Grant by the University of Edinburgh for 2014-15.

This project examines the relationships between Christianity and citizenship in India through bringing together stakeholders to reflect on how Christianity is shaped by diverse local experiences. This will create valuable research data, which can be applied in these local contexts, and advance broader theoretical ideas. Recent scholarship on Christianity has advanced significant theoretical and compelling articulations of the problem of ‘continuity’ and ‘discontinuity’, but how is this experienced? Do converts undergo a complete rupture from pre-Christian practices or are there continuities with that past? Are these choices politically motivated to maintain the status quo, or do the demands of doctrine, morality, and orthodoxies require an assertion of difference? In partnership with the University of Lancaster and United Theological College, Bangalore, we seek to advance the larger theoretical and public debate through a better understanding of the unique Indian experience.

Key findings

The objectives of the project were largely achieved particularly in terms of some of the ways people experienced marginalisation within the context of India where Hinduism is a majority religion. What was interesting was that majority of the cases were from the Dalit communities (former untouchables) and their experience of Christianity were different from those of the ‘tribes’ of Northeast India. Two interesting observations arose: for the Dalit Christians the question of citizenship was central as they were fighting for equal opportunities within the legal confines of the Indian state. While for the Northeast ‘tribal’ Christians, the issue was largely that of belonging – not always in the language of citizenship; sometimes it was also an active rejection of it. These divergent phenomena highlighted a crucial aspect of how we conceive of citizenship – that there is no one ‘model’ and that the diverse experiences of citizenship points to interesting issues of how theories of citizenship must be modelled from an experiential level.
Effective start/end date16/04/1530/06/16


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