Accepted paper:

"Along kingdom's highway": the proliferation of Christianity and the emergence of national identities in Northeast India


Arkotong Longkumer (University of Edinburgh)

Paper short abstract:

Christianity has become a powerful tool for articulating identity in Northeast India. This paper seeks to address its impact by examining its interaction with historical and geopolitical forces in the Northeast.

Paper long abstract:

The spread of Christianity in Northeast India has been unparalleled in comparison to other parts of India. Part of this is due to the fact it is on the periphery geographically in relation to 'mainland India', and partly because the mountainous topography of Northeast India means that, in an important sense, it is closer to Southeast Asia and the Himalayas. This geographic isolation and its geo-political reality has meant that Christianity is able to provide a crucial difference, a crucial and distinct identity, from the Indic and Buddhist civilisations that surround it. Why does Christianity offer a distinct regional identity in the Northeast? Understanding this question requires an in-depth examination of the missionary influences - coming via America and Britain. This paper will chart the particular influence of the introduction of print capitalism, education, and self-rule by these missions that above all privileged human agency to determine one's future. Christianity, therefore, created, what Scott calls, 'zones of resistance' that were increasingly suspicious of the Indian state and Indic civilisation. Christianity has provided a meaningful narrative for people's place in the world and given the tools to shape an identity that has significantly altered the region.

panel P46
Global Christianity: remaking social worlds in South and Southeast Asia