ISBN: 978-1-5017-5068-7

Dag-Erik Berg

Molde University College

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The history of violence against Christians in India is associated with the rise of right-wing Hindu nationalism. Chad Bauman offers a comprehensive study of this dimension of Indian politics and society. Using both historical and contemporary material, he explains how Christianity and Christians are perceived in India, particularly by the right-wing Hindu nationalists known as the Sangh. It might seem surprising that Christianity and secularism are understood as the same cultural phenomenon, but Bauman shows this well in the context of Hindutva ideology and by pointing to how Christians have heard slogans like 'Go to London' during the attacks. This is why he is introducing a 'socio-cosmological approach'. A central statement in the book is that the Sangh and their political entrepreneurs target Christians not simply because of the religion, but also because they are associated with a secular modernity and powerful force in global politics that represent a challenge to India's traditional elite and way of life. This is not a new allegation; it is central to Hindu nationalism. However, Bauman makes the critique of Christianity explicit by elaborating on how it is understood as a proselytizing religion as opposed to Hinduism, which is a non-proselytizing religion. This justifies appeals to the use of force. The book has a sociological emphasis that should appeal to students of religion, contentious action, ethnic mobilisation and the consequences of modernity. It is also valuable for area specialists. The empirical relevance of caste is discussed, although the theoretical scholarship on caste and related religious themes such as the renouncer and cosmology is missing. Nonetheless, the book has comparative and historical relevance and illuminates a critical question in India today.