A PhD Project in World Christianity

Title: Jisu Krista in the Land of the Rongmei Nagas – Continuity and Change among Upland Tribals of Manipur, India.

Dr. Alexander Chow FHEA
Dr. Arkotong Longkumer

A brief overview of my research

PhD candidate, Centre for the Study of World Christianity, School of Divinity, University of Edinburgh

The doctoral thesis is an interdisciplinary study of socio-religious change and continuities in the encounters between Christianity and the indigenous traditions of Rongmei Naga communities. The thesis particularly focuses on Baptist Christianity that has emerged from American Baptist missionary teachings in the 1920s, indigenous evangelistic activities, and subsequent revival movements in the area. The Rongmei Naga, also known as, ‘Kabui’, are ethnic minorities indigenous to Northeast India. They are categorised as ‘Scheduled Tribes’ in the Indian Constitution, a status that makes them beneficiaries of ‘affirmative actions’ and reservations. At the same time, it is indicative of their socio-economic disenfranchisement and politico-cultural distance from the rest of India.

The thesis analyses the nexus of their `Tribal’ experiences and their turn to Christianity (majority of whom are Baptists) over the last century. Thus, it studies how religious encounters and transition from traditional religious lives are entangled with their multifaceted lived realities.

The approach of the thesis combines digital/remote ethnographic, social scientific, and theological methods, designed with the intention to take seriously, the religious (theological) agencies of Rongmei Baptists, and the socio-cultural and historical contexts in which `indigenised’ Christianity took shape. It attempts a fresh approach in analysing and constructing theological articulations through qualitative research and ethnography. Conversely, it advances theological analysis alongside the rich social-scientific discourses represented in the burgeoning literature on Tribal-indigenous communities of Northeast India.

Research Poster: submitted for the Futures of Theology and Religious Studies Conference at New College on 9th September 2021