University of KwaZulu-Natal, 2022
As one reads Chad Bauman’s brilliantly perceptive book on anti-Christian hostilities in postcolonial India, one is flooded with a sense of familiarity, a Déjà vu. The book articulates realities that many of us who have grown up in India know in our bones – realities about India’s politics that first produces exclusive, and antagonistic religious groups and then spawns violence between them (p. 19). Bauman articulates the precise nature of this aetiology, linking Hindu-Christian hostilities in India to the rise of global antireligious and interreligious hostilities. The rampant nature of interreligious conflict, and specifically, anti-Christian conflict in India almost makes it banal – something Bauman calls “everyday” (p. 4) – an endemic product of Hindutva in the last decade. Combining secondary literature, and interviews with 150 Indians, Bauman does a history of Indian Christianity through the lens of anti-Christian conflict, proposing that the study of religion is unavoidably enmeshed with a study of politics. This obviously constitutes a model for other contemporary historians who want to do a history of other religious minorities in modern India through a history of contestation and violence. It also provides an analytical model for the history of interreligious conflicts in India, such as the Indian Partition of 1947 that saw large scale, and brutal rioting between Hindus and Muslims. Bauman identifies Hindu-Christian violence as located in the postcolonial conflations between Hinduism and Hindutva that commands all Hinduism to be subsumed under Hindutva. This not only threatens Christians, but also other religious minorities like Muslims – India’s largest religious minority, while also including liberal Hindus within the ambit of Hindutva violence.