To Be Cared For (Hardcover)

The Power of Conversion and Foreignness of Belonging in an Indian Slum (The Anthropology of Christianity #20)

By Nathaniel Roberts

University of California Press, 9780520288812, 312pp.

Publication Date: April 26, 2016

Other Editions of This Title:
Paperback (4/26/2016)

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To Be Cared For offers a unique view into the conceptual and moral world of slum-bound Dalits (“untouchables”) in the South Indian city of Chennai. Focusing on the decision by many women to embrace locally specific forms of Pentecostal Christianity, Nathaniel Roberts challenges dominant anthropological understandings of religion as a matter of culture and identity, as well as Indian nationalist narratives of Christianity as a “foreign” ideology that disrupts local communities. Far from being a divisive force, conversion integrates the slum community—Christians and Hindus alike—by addressing hidden moral fault lines that subtly pit residents against one another in a national context that renders Dalits outsiders in their own land."

Read an interview with the author on the Association for Asian Studies' #AsiaNow blog.

About the Author

Nathaniel Roberts is Research Fellow at the Centre for Modern Indian Studies, University of Göttingen. 

Praise For To Be Cared For: The Power of Conversion and Foreignness of Belonging in an Indian Slum (The Anthropology of Christianity #20)

"Roberts shows [that] difference is not always measured, valued, or materialized in the same way across diverse contexts, and it may not always be an inherently or self-evidently desirable thing. Our keenness to celebrate and protect identity-based plurality should not blind us to the fact that there are those (such as Roberts’ co-residents) for whom the attribution of difference can be both unwanted and detrimental; for whom salvation and liberation lie not in the acknowledgement of their distinctiveness but in the recognition of their sameness, their common humanity."

— Marginalia - Los Angeles Review of Books

"A major contibution to the anthropology of Christianity but also to the wider anthropology of religion as well as gender, class, and postcolonialism."

— Anthropology Review Database

"Those who read [To Be Cared For] to further their knowledge and understanding of its many topics will be impressed by Roberts’s thoroughness and erudition. Those who read it with curiosity, empathy, and eagerness to learn about people and ways of living that are, in all likelihood, quite different than their own will be challenged by the stories they encounter and, I believe, will also be changed for the better."

— Reading Religion