Till late 19th century; the historiography of Christianity in India had been written by most of the western writers from their perspectives. Moreover, the India herself played virtually no role in these 19 century histories.
The Indian historians were written for the westerners; who controlled and supported Protestant missions in India. So, that they might appreciate present work and current issues by viewing them in historical perspective. This has been found and opined by many Indian historians to be unsatisfactory.
Therefore, this Blog’s post attempts to highlight some Important Historiographical Issues.
There are certain historiographical issues that can have great significance in the future. The issues will not be discussed in detail; but in a nut shell.
Paradigm Shift (Historiography)
If this combined word Paradigm Shift is written in a simpler way in English. It can be written as Change in Pattern. This has come one of the most interesting and important issues in modern historiography of Christianity in India. Before the dawn of the 20th century; the history of Christianity in India was mostly written from the western perspectives.
The western missionaries were the actors and the writers of the histories of Christianity in India. They wrote about their successes and failures; about their annexation of their regime, and about their future plans. The history of Christianity in India was; in short, the history of the western people. Therefore, what is very much needed now is the change in pattern, the Paradigm shift.
The Indian Christian historians have to write the history of Christianity in India from Indian perspectives; dealing with the poor, the villagers, the outcastes, the middle class, the tribal, the dalits, etc; in addition to the bishops, missionaries, the Brahmans, and the clergymen. If and only when the history of Christianity in India is written in this way; there will be the real historiography of Christianity in India.
Range of Historical Studies
Another important historiographical issue that that has been emerged in this essay is the range of historical studies. Today, the Indian historians have broadened the range of historical studies from the political; military and administrative to the social, economic; and cultural in order to gain a deeper understanding of the history of the Indian people rather than just of their rulers.
With this has come a corresponding broadening of the range sources which historians have used. In no other area have more significant advances been made than in this one.
Change among the People
There have been several important changes in the historiography of Christianity in India during the past 150 years. Of them, the most probable important one is the marked change; in the kinds of people involved in this endeavor.
During the 19 century the historians; publishers and intended readers were all western and. So far as the general histories were concerned, Protestant. During the course of the century Indians – and Roman Catholics and non-Catholic Syrians — joined the ranks of historians, publishers, and intended readers.
Of even greater significance; by the 1960s both the historians and their readers were no longer exclusively Christians; but also included Hindus and Muslims; who started writing their doctoral dissertations on various aspects of the history of Christianity in India for an academic; and largely non-Christian readership.
The increased diversities of historians and readers has meant that a much wider range of aims and perspectives; and even biases, are being brought to bear on the subject; now than was the case seventy-five or even twenty-five years ago; so that the churchly preoccupations of the 19 century (Protestant versus Roman Catholic, Church and State, missionary methods; Padroado versus Propaganda) as well as 21 century (the indigenization, unity and mission of the Indian Church); are not the sole concerns of historians and their readers which they once were.
Diversity of Source Materials
The other historiographical issue; that is to posed emphatically; is the availability of the diversity of source materials; in writing the historiography of the Christianity in India. Historians of Christianity in India are now using a far greater diversity of source materials than they were previously. The number of specialized secondary works in the form of books and articles has increased enormously since Hough’s day; as have efforts to gather and make available primary sources.
Academic historians are no longer relying exclusively upon Christian sources; but are using such non-Church sources as press reports; government documents, regional language literature; and Hindu or Muslim religious publications in order to understand those aspects of the history of Christianity which interest them.
The issue of historiography poses a variety of challenges for today’s historians; at the same time, it provides the same many historiographical issues that need to be considered.
9 thoughts on “Historiography”
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