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date: 25 February 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter addresses an alternative Dalit Christian modernity transmitted and practiced through song and drumming in Tamil Nadu, India. Using two examples of the praxis of sharing, I analyze expressions of agency by the caste and gender oppressed that shows an awareness of discourses of liberation in both the bible and the modern world outside the caste-inflected village. Daily practice of economic sustainability through community finds its musical analogy in folk music’s potential for re-creation, unity, accessibility, and common ownership by the oppressed. I theorize this as an indigenous religio-political cosmopolitanism, expressed by Dalits as a discourse of supra-localism and spirituality that reverses the discourse of caste impurity and pollution. These cases show the historical and contemporary nature of Christian transnational flow in the form of theology, politics, and utopian community, its dialogical process of indigenization, and the process of cross-cultural musical exchange to (re)make Christianity meaningful through local musical reconstruction.

Keywords: Christianity, music, India, Tamil Nadu, Dalit, Tamil folk music, liturgy, liberation theology, cosmopolitanism, indigenization

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