SST Conference 2022, “End of the World”

The Annual Conference of the Society for the Study of Theology, 2022, at the University of Warwick.

An honour to present my first paper at the SST conference. The abstract for the paper is as follows.

Festivals, time immemorial, & the End Times: Tribal/Indigenous Baptists theologising the End
This paper explores ‘the end’ as entextualised in the practice of festivals (Ngai) among Rongmei Baptists in Manipur, India. Establishing the place of Ngai in Rongmei lifeworld from ‘time immemorial’, it approaches the practice and conceptualisation of Ngai as its theological resource. Through this method, it discusses Tribal/Indigenous negotiations with imported Christian theologies of alienation from land and immateriality. First, the hesitancy of contemporary Baptists towards Chakaan Gaan-Ngai is emblematic of Christianity’s role in effecting the end of traditional lifeworld among its adherents. While demonstrating signs of indigenisation, Christmas-Ngai is permeated by notions of the ‘End Times’ and the implicit ‘sense of the end’ embedded in its festival songs. This distinguishes the songs as indigenous performativity of the ‘end of the world.’ The ‘two endings’ are interconnected because the former is grounded in the latter—what effect does the end of land/world have on a lifeworld that is rooted and indigenous to that land? As possible critique to such ‘visions of endings’, the paper highlights a motif of the ‘end’ depicted in the festival songs—feast/festival in Salem village—with the recommendation to theologise Rongmei Baptist visions of the ‘end’ as inspired by the practice and conceptualisation of Ngai.
It was a pleasure to meet Elia Maggang at the conference.

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