[CSH Seminar #Hybrid] Endogamy and Christianity in Kerala : Analyzing the Knanaya Debate (N. Donald)

[CSH Seminar #Hybrid] Endogamy and Christianity in Kerala : Analyzing the Knanaya Debate (N. Donald)

Event Details

The Centre de Sciences Humaines is pleased to invite you to the CSH Hybrid Seminar



(Post doctoral fellow at the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay)


Endogamy and Christianity in Kerala :

Analyzing the Knanaya Debate

Followed by discussion with Ratheesh KUMAR (JNU)

Monday, 13 February 2023, from 5:00 pm to 6:30 pm IST
Centre de Sciences Humaines
IFI-CSH conference room (ground floor)
2 Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam Road, New Delhi – 110011

To register:
Please fill the Registration form

 Knanaya Christians (or Southists) are a multi-denominational endogamous community who trace their origins to a fourth century Mesopotamian merchant – Thomas of Kana.  In the early 20th century, they were successful in carving out a ‘separate diocese’ (known as the Kottayam diocese) within Catholicism. Kottayam diocese has historically maintained implicit rules of endogamy, with no scope for marital conversion. However, in 1989, Biju Uthup’s civil suit challenged the ‘christianness’ of this rule and catalysed a reform movement against blood marriages and expulsions in the Knanaya Catholic community of Kerala. This paper is a close reading of the Uthup judgement and other relevant court utterances from the past three decades to highlight the conflicts between the ‘endogamy-breaking’ individual  and the community on one hand; global Catholicism and local customs on the other. Both petitioners and defendants position themselves as guardians of the Christian faith. They fight over the meaning of Christianity. Moreover, the Indian court foregrounds its own assumptions about Christianity based on judicial precedent and the former’s apparent difference from caste-based Hinduism. This presentation will explore these contentions and provide a glimpse of how Indian Christianity is an active field of social and legal discourses on endogamy with the help of the Knanaya case study.


Nidhin Donald is currently a Post Doctoral Fellow in Sociology at the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay. His academic papers on the sociology of religion and family have been published in Explorations (Indian Sociological Society), Economic and Political Weekly, Kakatiya Journal of Historical Studies, Indian Church History Review, Journal of Indian Law and Society, The Apollonian and Nidan: International Journal for Indian Studies. Nidhin is also a freelance artist.

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CSH Seminars are in hybrid mode. We request you to pre-register before Monday, 13 February, 2:00 p.m. IST for both offline and online registration.

To attend at venue: Please note that the room capacity is limited. Seats will be reserved on a first come first basis. Kindly carry an ID proof to be granted access to the venue.


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