James Elisha Taneti, "Telugu Christians: A History" (Fortress Press, 2022)


Telugu Christians: A History (Fortress Press, 2022) narrates the history of Telugu Christians, a faith community located in the states of Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, and Pondicherry in southern India. A social history of a faith community, this volume analyzes how social aspirations of the community, local worldviews, and historical contingencies shaped the beliefs and practices of Telugu Christians. It relates and interprets the history of Telugu Christians chronologically from the sixteenth century until the current times.

The first two chapters of the book examine the earliest encounters between the Christian message that European missionaries introduced and the local Christians. Covering three centuries, this section highlights the appropriation of the Christian message among the caste converts. Later chapters analyze the impact of Dalit conversions and women's leadership on the social fabric and theological texture of Telugu Christianity in the nineteenth and the early twentieth centuries. The book ends with a consideration of three dominant movements in the second half of the twentieth century and the early twenty-first, namely the process of Sanskritization, the influences of Pentecostalism, and those of Holiness movements on the Telugu church. In conclusion, Taneti recaps how caste and empire shaped the faith and practices of Telugu Christians.

Byung Ho Choi is a PhD candidate in the History and Ecumenics program at Princeton Theological Seminary, concentrating in World Christianity and history of religions. His research focuses on the indigenous expressions of Christianities found in Southeast Asia, particularly Christianity that is practiced in the Muslim-dominant archipelagic nation of Indonesia. More broadly, he is interested in history and the anthropology of Christianity, complexities of religious conversion and social identity, inter-religious dialogue, ecumenism, and World Christianity.

Akhil Thomas is a PhD student at the Committee on the Study of Religion at Harvard University. His areas of concentration are Comparative Studies, South Asian Studies, Christianity and Hinduism. His present project involves Portuguese - Thomas Christian relations in the early modern world and the study of Tamil and Malayalam poetry.

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Byung Ho Choi

Byung Ho Choi is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History and Ecumenics, with a concentration in World Christianity and history of religions at Princeton Theological Seminary.

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