Caste, Catholic Christianity and the Language of Conversion : Social Change and Cultural Translation in Tamil Country, 1519-1774

S Jeyaseela Stephen, Kalpaz Pub, 2008, 402 p, tables, ISBN : 8178356864, $50.00 (Includes free airmail shipping)

Contents: List of abbreviations. Preface. Introduction. Section I. 1. Tamil Hindu society and the advent of the Portuguese. 2. The Catholic religious orders and glimpses into the conversion of the Tamils. 3. Castes, communities, societal changes and the Catholic institutions. Section II. 4. The Christian life and everyday practices of the Tamils. 5. Luso-Tamil cultural relations. 6. Social life of the Portuguese Casados and Mesticoes on the Tamil Coast. Section III. 7. Role of the Tamil printing press: development of Christian devotional literature and prose. 8. Portuguese contribution to Tamil Grammar and lexicography. Section IV. 9. Portuguese and the religious architecture in the churches of Tamilnadu. 10. Inside the Tamil Church: ecclesiastical art, role of the Portuguese Missionaries and the Armenian Merchants. Conclusion. Appendices. Glossary. Select bibliography. Index.

"Based on a wide range of published sources, archival material and field data this book is an in-depth study of the Portuguese missions and missionaries in the Tamil coast and hinterland between 1519 and 1774. It brings to light the socio-cultural interaction between the missionaries and the natives emphasizing the role of Catholic Christianity and its various institutions. In exciting and unexpected ways the book provides various dimensions of change in the Tamil society, analyzes the changes in approaches, strategies and schemes in the context of social development. It highlights the position of the people and their conditions that were more shaped by the diverse historical material conditions than by religion and ideology. It presents a fresh analysis on the theme of the Portuguese contribution to Tamil language and printing press and enriches our understanding of the Tamil Christian life and every day practices. This work is the first to offer an overall survey of the architectural and artistic traditions by placing them within proper historical and cultural context. This monograph is an exemplum of the best socio-historical and missiological study of Christianity in its analysis of texts, socio-cultural context and sets a wide gauge for understanding the history of the Tamil society." (jacket)

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