By studying the history and sources of the Thomas Christians of India, a community of pre-colonial Christian heritage, the book revisits the assumption that Christianity is Western and colonial and that Christians in the non-West are products of colonial and post-colonial missionaries. Christians in the East have had a difficult time getting heard—let alone understood as anti-colonial. This is a problem, especially in studies on India, where the focus has typically been on North India and British colonialism and its impact in the era of globalization.
The book analyses texts and contexts to show how communities of Indian Christians predetermined Western expansionist goals and later defined the Western colonial and Indian national imaginary. Combining historical research and literary analysis, the author prompts a re-evaluation of how Indian Christians reacted to colonialism in India and its potential to influence ongoing events of religious intolerance. Through a rethinking of a postcolonial theoretical framework, the book argues that Thomas Christians attempted an anti-colonial turn in the face of ecclesiastical and civic occupation that was colonial at its core.
A novel intervention, the book takes up South India and the impact of Portuguese colonialism in both the early modern and contemporary period. It will be of interest to academics in the fields of Renaissance/Early Modern Studies, Postcolonial Studies, Religious Studies, Christianity, and South Asia.
Acknowledgements; Chapter One - Introduction: The Anti-Colonial Turn; Chapter Two - Prester John of India: Imagination First, (Con)Quest Next; Chapter Three - Unsettling the Global Early Modern Period: The Narratives of Gama and Joseph; Chapter Four - The Jornada: Why a European Travelogue Labelled Anti-colonial Christians as Heretics; Chapter Five - Conclusion and Beyond