Religious Studies and Theology, Vol 33, No 2 (2014)

Kumani Christians Contesting Masculinity and Belief in Modern Mission

Rhonda A. Semple
Issued Date: 16 Dec 2014


The work and impact of modern Western missions was as much shaped by secular cultural constructs as it was by the formal goal that missions impart faith and create converts in a transcultural setting. This article extends the gender analysis of mission work and community identity to the male mission adherent in the Kumaon Protestant Christian community in north India. The evidence examined is mission-generated letters, reports and published articles, and particular attention is paid to photographic images of mission workers. Men were additionally shaped by their place in a martial British system that sought both reliable recruits and settled communities, with the result that many men fought and lived outside their communities. The findings suggest that in order to examine the negotiation of an acceptably gendered Kumani-Christian identity it is necessary to look beyond mission sources to understand ways in which that confessional identity was at times supported by and challenged by worldly pressures of what constituted manliness.

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DOI: 10.1558/rsth.v33i2.225


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