Blog Archives

Teacher’s Workshop: Understanding religious lives through story.

It’s been a while since I’ve found myself acting alongside a colleague in a scene of domestic tension, then being asked to reflect with others on what this tells us about religious ideas and practices. Focused discussions and lots of laughter featured strongly at a recent CPD workshop for teachers at Manchester University. The workshop explored stories of lives changed by religious encounters between Christians, Hindus, Parsis and others in colonial India.  The workshop was distinctive because it featured stories of religious encounter ‘from below,’ written by Indians and translated from different languages into English.  Whilst it is not too difficult to find first-hand accounts of such encounters written by Christian missionaries,

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Recent Publication: Translation of a Marathi Conversion Narrative

The Subhedar’s Son: A Narrative of Brahmin Christian Conversion from Nineteenth Century Maharashtra

Deepra Dandekar (Ph.D.) Researcher, Center for the History of Emotions, Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin

The Subhedar’s Son: A Narrative of Brahmin-Christian Conversion from Nineteenth Century Maharashtra published by the AAR Series of Religion in Translation, OUP (NY) in 2019, is an introduced and annotated English translation of the Marathi book Subhedārachā Putra written by Rev. D.S. Sawarkar (1867-1952), an educationist and Christian reformer. The original Marathi book published in 1895 by the Bombay Tract and Book Society is a novelized version of D.S.

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Narratives of awakening: A Linguistics of Religion approach 2

Guest Post: Wolf-Andreas Liebert,
Universität Koblenz-Landau, Campus Koblenz

New media breaks through familiar narrative patterns

Let me move next to sequences of a published
movie titled “Satori” (OpenSkyFilms 2013). The Film is about a
woman’s awakening in a small spiritual community. The documentary narrates not
only the story retrospectively but includes material filmed during the
awakening process.

In Zen Buddhism,
Satori means a sudden insight into the nature of mind beyond rationality and
language. The traditional sitting meditation (Zazen) or paradoxical
interventions (Koans) are regarded as enabling conditions for a Satori.
Although the term “Satori”

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Narratives of awakening. A Linguistics of Religion approach 1

Guest post: Wolf-Andreas Liebert,
Universität Koblenz-Landau, Campus Koblenz

Conversion or awakening?

Studies seem to show that conversion
narratives always follow the same pattern of crisis, extraordinary experience,
and a revision of life concepts. We already find that in William James (1917).
But what religion means today has radically changed: many people get involved
in loose networks via social media, attach importance to individualisation and
are sceptical or even hostile towards traditional religions. Thus a religiosity
and spirituality have developed that is globally networked but very heterogeneous
and informal (cf. Hanegraaff 2015).

Are conversion
narratives here still the same as we know them from traditional religious

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Our publications–Autobiographies of Conversion

It is exciting to see our first set of publications based on the research conducted and presented by the team!

Most of the contributions to this volume were first presented at a workshop held at IIT Delhi in December 2015, entitled “Narratives of Transformation: Language, Conversion, and Indian Traditions of ‘Autobiography.’” Our intention was to situate our study of conversion accounts to Christianity within a broader context in South Asia by including conversion between other religious traditions and historical periods, to give our study historical depth and comparative range across religious cultures. You can read more about the conference here.

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Baba Padmanji (1831 – 1906): Conversion and Reform

Guest Post

Dr. Deepra Dandekar
Researcher, Center for the History of Emotions
Max Planck Institute for Human Development


Baba Padmanji’s conversion from Hinduism (from the Tvashta Kasar caste) to Christianity in 1854 was tumultuous. Not only was he considered the most prolific among writers of vernacular Christian texts in mid-nineteenth century Maharashtra, but his writings became emblematic for scripting a positive and phantom image of Hindu Brahminical reformist engagement with religious conversion.

I say phantom, because Hindu Brahmins in Maharashtra during the mid-nineteenth century did not engage with Christian conversion in any positive manner,

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Posts on Conversion Accounts

As the project team review the many conversion accounts found in the archives and write our articles, we thought it would be a good idea to write short blog posts on some of the accounts we have found particularly striking. What do these convert-narrators say about themselves, how do they describe their experiences or how to they see themselves relating to the world around them?

We have found that conversion accounts were not merely straightforward autobiographies published as books. There are accounts embedded within letters, obituaries, and as part of applications for ordination as catechists or ministers. Many such accounts written on plain paper,

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