The Unconquered People

  • The Unconquered People
  • Year: 2012
  • Availability: In Stock
  • 25.0000


ISBN : 9780199063543

Author : John O’ Brien  

Publisher :  Oxford

Pages : 352

Year :  2012

Binding : Hard Bound

Language : English  

Contents :

This book explores the history, ethnography and liberation journey of an aboriginal, forest-dwelling hunting tribe, which was reduced to servitude by the Aryan conquest of the Indian subcontinent. They were called Chandala in classical Brahmanic literature and are designated as Chuhra in the censuses of India (1868–1931). In contemporary Pakistan, they are known as Punjabi Christians. The book explores their primarily tribal rather than occupational nature, their homeland, and their spread through the Indian subcontinent. It traces how the construction of their religiously-endorsed inequality and degradation came about. Furthermore, it cautions against the suppression of the ‘memory’ of oppression and argues that, by defining themselves as a lineage of belief and praxis, these resilient people can give meaning to their past and present, as well as purposefully construct a more humane future for themselves. Their very history is proof that culturally they are not easily contained, much less, dominated.

The book also covers their rites of passage, eclectic structure, mental universe, and the evolution of their religious sensibilities—from animism to the development of the cult of Bala Shah-Balmik. The movement to Christianity of the Chuhras was the defining moment in the creation of a new social identity. It delves into how upward mobility of agricultural workers and tenants widened the social gap between the ‘rural’ and the ‘urban’ sweeper; and in the cities between the ‘dry’ and the ‘wet’ sweeper. It also provides an insight into the Punjabi Christian’s system of beliefs in the world of hidden spirits, propitiation, and superstition, and traces their growing exclusion from Pakistan’s mainstream in the face of accelerating ‘Islamisation’ in the country.

This work is a study of memory. In his attempt to narrate the story of these people John O’Brien has not made any encyclopaedic pretence. Hence, it should be considered as an invitation to an ongoing dialogue rooted in further research.