Accepted Paper:

Scripture as transmission. The Case of the Jewish Community of Aizawl (Mizoram, India)  


Alexia Ingber (University of Louvain )

Paper short abstract:

Through ethnographic description and theoretical reflexion, this paper will explore the permanence of Scripture through transmission among newly converts to Judaism in conflictual, subaltern and inter-faith context in the margins of India.

Paper long abstract:

Through thick description of an ethnographic case, this paper will provide new insights to think the permanence of the Scripture through religious conversion in conflictual, subaltern and inter-faith contexts.

The Bnei Menashe Community of Mizoram (Christian State in North-East India) were born in the 80's, its members were all Christian who underwent informal religious conversion and considered themselves descendants of the Menashe Tribe. The community got in the rye of a messianic Israeli organization (Shavei Israel) searching for Lost Tribes to be brought back to Israel.

Bibles constitute structural components to these social dynamics and to the consequential reshaping of the ethnic and religious landscapes of Mizoram and Israel.

In this context not only are Bibles tools (instrumentalist approach) but it can also be considered as actant (Latour), producing in its historicity social effects on individuals and religious communities. Implications of this argument are twofold : non humans can have agency, weight and intensity in interactions flow (1); by inscribing Religious texts in their hermeneutical historicity (Gadamer 1965), the history of transmission and its effects can be traced (a); the original reference is maintained beyond contexts and times highlighting the causal relation between a context and a fundamental Biblical text (b); a social situation is not to be understood by causal factors only but also by the verticality of transmission, a process of permanence (c).

I will explain this argument, its theoretical and empirical consequences with the concept of dialectic of tradition as developed by Georg-Hans Gadamer.

Panel P114
Permanence: anthropologies of what stays