Kerala Christian Sainthood: Collisions of Culture and Worldview in South India

Oxford University Press, 2001/01/25 - 232 ページ
Kerala Christian Sainthood is an ethnography-based study that celebrates the multi-vocal function of saints. Drawing on pilgrim anecdotes, shrine practices, official hagiographies, and regional lore, author Corinne Dempsey demonstrates how the business of saints routinely extends beyond their capacity as earthly conduits of miraculous power. Saintly characters described in this book, hailing from the religiously pluralistic south Indian state of Kerala, tend not only to the health and happiness of individual devotees but help craft and express the multiple identities and complex power relations of their devotional communities as well. Throughout the study, Dempsey highlights the traditions of Sr. Alphonsa of Bharananganam (1910-1946) and St. George the martyr, two figures who reflect the many preoccupations of Kerala sainthood. Sr. Alphonsa, native of Kerala and famous for her life of suffering and posthumous power, stands in line to be canonized by the Vatican. St. George, the caped dragon slayer imported to Kerala by Syrian merchants and later by Portuguese and British colonizers, is today partially debunked by Rome. These two figures, while differing dramatically in temperament, nationality, age of cult, and Vatican standing, boast a vast popular appeal in Kerala's Kottayam district. In examining Sr. Alphonsa and St. George, Dempsey shows how Kerala's saint traditions reflect devotees' hybrid identities in both colonial and postcolonial times. This ethnography of Christian sainthood within a Hindu cultural context, of "foreign" traditions adopted by native practice, and of female sanctity negotiated through patriarchal expectation is poised at a number of intersections. Dempsey provides not only a comparative study of cultures, religions, and worldviews, but also a unique grounding for contemporary ethnographic, post-colonial, and feminist concerns.


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Kerala Gods Own Country
Me St George and Other Foreigners
Siblings and Other Metaphors for ChristianHindu Relations
Calamity Management and the Role of Sacred Ambivalence
The Life and Cult of Sr Alphonsa A Celebration of Complexity and Paradox
Of US Angels and Ethnographers

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32 ページ - Hybridity is a problematic of colonial representation and individuation that reverses the effects of the colonialist disavowal, so that other 'denied' knowledges enter upon the dominant discourse and estrange the basis of its authority — its rules of recognition.
79 ページ - ... those that are not becomes something worse than an error: namely, a symptom and a reinforcement of the reification and privatization of contemporary life. Such a distinction reconfirms that structural, experiential, and conceptual gap between the public and the private, between the social and the psychological, or the political and the poetic, between history or society and the "individual...
23 ページ - ... orientalist and his countrymen to gain trade concessions, conquer, colonize, rule, and punish in the East. Now it authorizes the area studies specialist and his colleagues in government and business to aid and advise, develop and modernize, arm and stabilize the countries of the so-called third world. In many respects the intellectual activities of the orientalist have even produced in India the very Orient which it constructed in its discourse.
20 ページ - Nostromo, argue that the source of the ^world's significant action and life is in the West, whose representatives seem at liberty to visit their fantasies and philanthropies upon a mind-deadened Third World. In this view, the outlying regions of the world have no life, history, or culture to speak of, no independence or integrity worth representing without the West.
42 ページ - Resistance is not necessarily an oppositional act of political intention, nor is it the simple negation or exclusion of the 'content' of another culture, as a difference once perceived. It is the effect of an ambivalence produced within the rules of recognition of dominating discourses as they articulate the signs of cultural difference and reimplicate them within the...
37 ページ - This is a politics of disguise and anonymity that takes place in public view but is designed to have a double meaning or to shield the identity of the actors.
vii ページ - The anthropologist and the historian are charged with representing the lives of people who are living or once lived, and as we attempt to push these people into the molds of our texts, they push back.
22 ページ - Orientalism can be discussed and analyzed as the corporate institution for dealing with the Orient — dealing with it by making statements about it, authorizing views of it, describing it, by teaching it, settling it, ruling over it: in short. Orientalism as a Western style for dominating, restructuring, and having authority over the Orient.
141 ページ - ... third world" (read: ignorant, poor, uneducated, tradition-bound, domestic, family-oriented, victimized, etc.). This, I suggest, is in contrast to the (implicit) self-representation of Western women as educated, as modern, as having control over their own bodies and sexualities, and the freedom to make their own decisions.