Université d'Erfurt


Prof. Dr. Saurabh Dube

Gastwissenschaftler am Max-Weber-Kolleg
von Juni bis Juli 2017 



Evangelism and Individualization in Colonial Central India

This project shall discuss issues of religion, individualization, and religious individualization by exploring the interplay of conversion, translation, and life-history. Such interplay was embedded within processes of evangelical entanglements between Euro-American missionaries and central-Indian peoples in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. I shall focus on chronicles of catechists, lowly Indian evangelical operatives, alongside autobiographies and biographies of converts to Christianity in the Chhattisgarh region of central India, especially accounts written in the first half of the twentieth century. Here, the exact ordinariness and the very details of these texts – mediated by procedures of vernacular translation – not only reveal the writings as key registers of evangelical entanglements. They further foreground questions of religion and politics, individual and subject, individualization and personhood.

In this project, religion is approached as turning on practices, meanings, and rituals whose renderings and reconfigurations of social worlds are closely tied to processes of authority and alterity. Politics, in turn, is understood as extending beyond the institutionalized attributes of governance centering on the state and its subjects to equally include diffuse domains of power and their intimate effects. Ultimately, issues of the individual and individualization are seen as lying on the cusp of formations of subjects, processes of subjectification, and performances of personhood, all of which turn upon meaning and power, religion and politics.

The present project builds on my prior and ongoing work on Christianity, conversion, and colonialism, conjoining central Indian and North American pasts. Based on such familiarity with wider archival, empirical, and theoretical questions, during my stay at Erfurt I hope to seize upon particular texts in order to address issues of religion and individualization, evangelism and modernity, and meaning and power – their intimate intersections and acute implications – as these were played out in everyday arenas.

Saurabh Dube (PhD, Cantab, 1992) is Research Professor in History, Centre for Asian and African Studies, El Colegio de México. He has been a fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, New York; the Institute of Advanced Study, University of Warwick; the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla; and the Stellenbosch Institute of Advanced Study, South Africa. Apart from over one hundred and twenty journal-articles and book-chapters, Dube’s authored books include Untouchable Pasts (1998, 2001); Stitches on Time (2004); After Conversion (2010); and Subjects of Modernity (2017). He has also written a quintet in historical anthropology in the Spanish language, published (2001-2017) by El Colegio de México. Among his fifteen edited and co-edited volumes are Postcolonial Passages (2004); Historical Anthropology (2007); Enchantments of Modernity (2009); and Crime through Time (2013). Dube has been visiting professor several times at institutions such as Cornell University and the Johns Hopkins University

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