Schooling, identity, and belonging in a Tamil Lutheran congregation
Based on fieldwork in 1983 with a congregation of the Arcot Lutheran Church in a Tamil Nadu town, I focus on self-representations of Christian identity in speech and action in local activities. Many Lutherans, themselves converts or from families who converted in recent generations, originated in oppressed Dalit castes. The histories of most are tied to the Danish Mission Society’s early establishment of village schools. Anomalous in the 1980s, however, was the fact that the growth of a social justice movement, based in Dalit consciousness and strongly emergent among Dalit Christians elsewhere, was little evident in the local congregation. I show how the context of this stance is related to the aim and modes of social betterment of individuals, families, and their social circles which was facilitated by educational opportunities provided by mission and church.