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CIR Lecture: The challenges of 'two religions'.

When:Mo 18-11-2013 16:30 - 18:00
Where:room 253, Oude Boteringestraat 38

Abstract by Berit Fuhrmann (Münster)

The challenges of 'two religions'.

Cosmological continuities, ritual changes and the process of Christian conversion in a tribal society of Meghalaya, Northeast India

Most of the tribal minorities in the mountainous parts of Northeast India are Christians today. The Karow in Meghalaya got confronted with Christianity sixty years ago. Many people converted in the last decades but to this day the Karow do not form a complete Christian society. The people rather express that they live with ?two religions? ? their ?old? Karow religion and the ?new? Christian religion.
In my talk I will take up this local expression and discuss the interplay of two socio-religious systems. Looking at the process of conversion, I will first describe in which way Christianity is attractive for the people. I will then point to some of the social and ritual transformations that are caused by the ongoing conversions. In the situation where a local system of socio-religious ideas and practices meets with the Christian system the question is not only which changes the latter causes but also which continuities we can observe.
Although many Karow rituals do change or cease due to Christian interventions we also find a number of continuities at the level of socio-cosmological ideas. I will explain some of these continuities and show that Christianity among the Karow cannot be viewed as an outside force that simply alters the given conditions. As in many other regional contexts, the ?new? religion is instead actively indigenised which not only leads to the occurrence of a specific local Christianity but also to the constant remodelling of the so-called ?old? Karow religion.