Colonization, Erasure and Theologizing in India

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Thinking the unthought is authentic thinking. Often the unthought is that which remains forgotten.  It thus, remains an unsaid in all that is said. Within this world of the unthought, the history of colonization remains forgotten in theology. But today, the imperial face of theology is being examined and interrogated in several quarters. The Australian aboriginal painter, Lin Onu,  in his painting, ‘and on the eighth day’ presents a visual satire of the biblical narrative of creation.  He portrays that ‘on the eight day’ the English Angels arrive bearing sheep, fencing wire, a gun, a Bible and disinfectant, attempting to unravel how the colonized land was needed to be fenced -and the people to be subjugated with a gun, civilized with a Bible and disinfected of unwanted elements.[1] In a similar way, Claude Alvares and Norma Alvares in their provocative article ‘’The Christian and the Wild”, forcefully manifest how Christianity that claimed to originate with the prince of peace exhibited deeds that were associated with the prince of darkness, particularly during the colonial era. They argue that the dark side of the project of civilization and Christianization was enslavement.[2]  A complete demonizing of the inter-relationship of Christianity with colonization  would be  crass reductionism. It would amount to simply forgetting that benevolent dimension embedded in the colonial project. Yet the complexities and the ambiguities associated with it pose challenges to our faith  response in this modern era.  Certainly, we can notice a discomfort to deal with these crucial, vital and critical terrains of Christian encounters with the colonized peoples. But this is our prophetic mission. We need to recover the original grace that given to us through our faith that is entangled with the evils of colonization.  We can trace this noble attempt of Samuel Rayan in his seminal article, ‘de-colonizing theology’ where is brings forth his quest for a liberating and liberated theology in India. following the path pioneered by Samuel Rayan this study attempts to study the relevance and importance of such a project.  This project can free us as well as our country from the disastrous afterlife of colonization. Hence, we shall try to argue that colonization cannot be reduced to a tabula rasa and kept under erasure by theology in India. We shall attempt to inspire a new spring-time for theologizing in India that strives to respond to the complexities of colonization.

Ambiguities and Complexities that Face Christianity Today 

Colonization has not really ended with its political end but continues to live on the borderlines of the present where we seem to find ourselves in a position of being  ‘in-between’ as we experience an afterlife of colonization brewing among the people who were colonized. We can identify a metamorphosis of colonisation in the shape of multiple neo-colonial modes of domination in our society.  The Christians who inhabit the once colonized societies have to negotiate their loyalties to Christianity as well as the newly independent, politically robust, and sovereign State in their respective societies. Often Christians are displaced, deprived, and discriminated by their religious other despite the fact that  they often have a shared biology, and a  common history and memory of colonial experience.  Hence, the claims for identities have become sites of innovative collaboration and contestation in the Post-colonial societies like India, leading to profoundly antagonistic, conflictual and even incommensurable exchanges among communities marked as different on the basis of by their religious orientation.



Alienation of Religious Minorities in Post-colonial India 

Post-colonially, India exhibits both antagonistic as well as affiliative movements among communities that are othered by religious affiliation. The majority community that has emerged from various indigenous movements and religions during the colonial era and stakes claim for legitimate citizenry, while its religious other has to prove the same, although everyone is bestowed citizenship by virtue of being born in India. The tone and tenor of this cultural engagement are produced performatively. Hence, we cannot think of  the antagonistic as well as the affiliative processes as  being pre-given and set in the fixed tablet of tradition. This representation of sameness and otherness is a complex ongoing process that seeks to authorize and privilege the majority community and reinforce its position through the re-invention of tradition. One can see the consensual as well as conflictual lines along borders that are continuously constructed and maintained to guarantee a sense of majoritarian identity. The mjoritarian Identity is reinforced  through a production of demonized minorities that are thought to have been estranged from the cultural ethos of our country. The other side of the line of affiliation is affliction of the religious other, but one cannot simply reduce these affiliative as monolithic and fixed processes. There is an inbuilt heterogeneity (like in every other community) in the majority community that refuses to dissolve into a monadic unity. Hence, it is clear that Christianity in India is in an interrogatory interstitial space where she has to continuously negotiate the forces and processes of de-territorialisation. This location into an interrogatory zone has opened up numerous possibilities of being both Indian and Christian. We can already trace the fact that Christians in India have responded primarily through inculturation and Dalit theologies. Yet the barriers seem to persist and linger synchronically on both sides of the divide, and we seem to be led into an in-articulable and un-representable terrain that has its roots in the colonial era.

The Synchronic Process of Territorialisation and De-territorialisation     

The processes of minoritizing simultaneously become the processes of majoritizing. The self-presence of the majority is synchronous with its discontinuities, its inequalities and its minorities. This means that the majority territorialises by a simultaneous de-territorialisation of its minorities. By usurping of the enunciative space, a majority territorialises itself and silences a range of other dissonant and even dissident voices and histories. It thus, constructs and maintains its power position in our society. This occupation of the enunciative space brings the minorities under the gaze of what is viewed as natural and normal by the majority and effectively puts the minorities into a mode of self policing and self surveillance. This means that the reigning cultural politics in our country produces its nationalism by disenfranchising its minorities. Within this milieu, Christians in India are totalized and disenfranchised. They thus, remain as an exiled other in their own country.  As Benedict Anderson effectively says, we can see that the current nationalism proposes an ‘imagined community’ rooted ‘in homogenous empty time’ of modernity and progress.   Thus, the power elite in our country have assimilated the technologies of domination of the colonial masters and evolved as their clones or mimic men. These technologies of domination mimicked from the West ironically un-home Christianity in India.  The power elite successfully use the technologies and architecture of domination to re-locate his home and thus mark out the world of un-homeliness which is viewed as the dwelling space of the Christians and other minorities in India. Although the ‘un-homely’ was a common colonial condition of all Indians under colonization, the power elite as fractural image of the colonizer makes his home by un-homing the Christians and other minorities in a free India. Some might say that Christianity is facing the logic of reversal since it had already un-homed several religions and communities under the garb of colonization. All cultures recognize themselves through the projection of otherness, and Christianity and other minorities today becomes the other that produces a sense of stable sameness in the majority community.

The Second Colonization

It is an experience of post-colonial societies that something is beyond control but not beyond accommodation. The suffering, pain and trauma of the colonial era irrupt and disrupt our society producing an un-homing stirring in everyone. Feeling un-homed, dislocated, and lost, there are movements of recovery, reclamation and restoration in post-colonial societies. Indeed, we can view a complex quest for healing of colonial trauma through its re-enactment. Perhaps Rene Girard’s theory of mimetic desire might help us arrive at some understanding of how the past lives in complex ways in our present. With the encounter with the colonizer, there sprung the desire to be like the colonizers. That is why we can trace mimicry/imitation of the colonial era in our modern society too; an imitation/mimicry that relocates the self and other relations and ends up repeating the colonizer/colonized relation and their tyrannical histories of domination. This is succinctly articulated by Fanon when he said ‘the Negro is not any more than the white men’.[3]  The re-enacting histories of domination in post-colonial India exhibit naked incivility of the colonial condition irrupting again in our society. All Indians seem to be over-determined by the image and fantasy of the colonizers and have become the image and likeness of the one we hated most.  This is clearly brought to the fore by Ashish Nandy in his book, Intimate Enemy: the Loss and Recovery of Self under Colonization, forcefully demonstrating that colonization was a colonization of the mind. He speaks of the second colonization that is surviving in our country long after the demise of the empire. The second colonization legitimated the first colonization and even those who resisted the first colonization guiltily embraced the second colonization.[4]  In fact, second colonization released forces in our society that have altered our cultural priorities, and which have transformed the concept of the modern West from a geographical and temporal entity to a psychological category. The West is now everywhere and there are many imaginations of the West in our minds. We are challenged to beat the West on the strength of our acquired Western-ness. That is why like Albert Camus, we might state that the innocent is called upon to justify itself in contemporary India.[5] We might include Christians, Muslims and other minorities who are called to justify themselves under the new order of things in a post-colonial India. the West has produced its blind imitators, critical admirers, ornamental dissenters as well as circus-tamed opponents who are in the final analysis reproducing the oppressive technologies of the West in front of local appreciative Caesars.

Deciphering the Shared Culture of Colonization and the Space of Christianity in India   

Colonization is primarily a relationship. It cannot be identified with economic gain and political power. Colonial relations continued even when there were economic and political losses.[6] Colonization is more a state of mind and a matter of consciousness. The psychological contours of colonization needs to be decoded so as to understand how colonialism is still alive and active in several sectors  of our life in India even after the end of the Raj. The sources of colonization remain deep in the minds of the colonized people and continue to afflict them in post-colonial times. Colonization continued through the induction of socio-economic and psychological rewards and punishments. This still continues by way of a new garb of incentives and dis-incentives by the mimic men of the colonizers to their victims who are constantly trumpeted to fall in line with their imperial agenda.

Christians as not Indian Enough  

Christians in India are subjected to a panoptical vision of domination that lays a clear demand to be a subject that is Indian but not quite. This subject position produces a feeling among Christians enough. Theology has tried to address this demand through the theology of inculturation, but not very successfully. This demand has its roots in colonization. In fact it mimics the colonizer who drew up the lines of difference and thus invited the Indians to be civilized by becoming like white men; creating a desire that can never be really fulfilled. Colonial mimicry is ambivalent. In order to be effective it has to continually produce its slippage, its excess, its difference. The colonized people never really qualify enough to be an exact image of the white men. What is interesting about this mimicry is that it generates self policing or surveillance in the colonized. This in turn continuously reminds them that they are not Western enough and legitimates and normalises the colonial hegemony over them. Along with the mimicry, there is also mockery which constantly reminds the colonizers of their failed mimicry, thus reinforcing the fact that they are yet not quite there. The success of the colonial project depended on mimicry which at once became resemblance as well as menace.  Indeed, Christianity was used by the colonizers to drive home the project of mimicry and consolidate colonial hegemony. In post-colonial India, we can locate the colonizer’s strategy of  mimicry in a new avtara. This time the coordinates of mimesis are identified, singularized, and craftily nationalized from our plural Indic tradition.   This strategy generates a constant feeling of not being Indian enough among the Christians and legitmates a politics of outsidering, championed by some bigotry and exclusionary nationalist agenda. Thus, we have a complex mimicry that repeats the colonial hegemony and brings about the second colonization from within. This might be viewed as the way in which colonial trauma is seeking collective catharsis. The white presence and its brown Indian resemblance is repeated and re-enacted as Hindu Indian presence and its resemblance in the mimic practices of Christian and other minorities.  All in all , a Christian remains a lacking or castrated subject who cannot be accepted as fully Indian. Hence the theology of inculturation, though significantly important, seemed to bow down to the subjected position of lacking or castrated nature of Christianity in India, and is mimed in complex ways chiefly through the brahminical tradition .

Transgenerational Trauma

The colonial condition was a dehumanizing experience for the colonizers as well as for the colonized. It has a cumulative emotional and psychological wounding dimension that extends over communities and gets transmitted from generation to generation. This  is called inter-generational transmission of trauma. Most of the studies that have been done on the transmission of trauma have concentrated on the survivors of the holocaust. Trauma breaks down the protective shield of the people; the shield that gives security and safety to them and brings great damage in their personal as well as social life. Trauma seeks healing through re-enactment and continues to afflict our people even after political independence. Certainly colonization was a disruption and invasion of the social, political, cultural, economic, religious and psychological life of the colonized people. Albert Memmi describes the colonial society as a disease society. Scholars have evolved a category, ‘Historical trauma’ as a hermeneutical tool to understand the impact of the psychic damage inflicted by colonization. Within this perspective, we may understand how Christianity in India is looked upon with suspicion and may be even viewed a disruptive force by some sections of our people. The growing pathologization of Christians and other minorities in our country can be seen as an indication of that complex trauma of the colonial past that is still afflicting our society even today. Hence, we need creative and therapeutic responses to the present condition as well as diverse ways to free Christianity which is entangled in the complex web of colonial history. Hence, Christian theology has to become therapeutic and should strive to free us from the karma of the colonial era that is still afflicting us even today.

Subjecting to the Foreclosed Boundaries

We have been able to rise beyond the natural common understanding of power which views power externally as something pressed upon the subject and embrace the understanding of power as one that forms the subject and forms the very condition of its existence, and thus nurses the trajectory of its desire. Becoming a subject requires submission to the process of subjection. This means that  power doubles up as it simultaneously subordinates as well as produces us as subjects. The colonial condition has made us subjects in subordination. Hegel in his master salve dialectics has pointed out that the master who first appears ‘external’ to the slave re-emerges in the slave’s own consciousness.[7] Thus, power which appears as something external and pressed upon the subject into subordination acquires a psychic form that constructs the subjects’ identity. Louis Althusser says  that a subject is formed through linguistic interpellation. Moving forward in the same direction, Michel Foucault drives home the point that a subject is a construct of discursive production.[8] But there is something more profound that makes the subject remain attached to his or her own subordination. There is an ambivalence in the subjection of the subject who is at once formed and subordinated at the same time. We Indians experience this dependent subject formation like a child and hence are vulnerable to subordination and exploitation. These dependencies bore from caste oppression. At the same time, colonization conditions a passionate attachment to those who replicate and regulate the power structure in  post-colonial India and continue to produce possibilities for being within foreclosed boundaries. Christians are also challenged to be in foreclosed boundaries. That means Christians are produced as subjects by condition from which they are differentiated and separated. Julia Kristeva  in Powers of Horror: an Essay on Abjection, theorises on how the subject is constructed by positioning of boundaries that brings about the dynamism of exclusion and inclusion.[9] Those that are excluded become the abject that ambivalently carry both fascination and horror within them. Hence it is important to discern how Christians have taken to the foreclosed boundaries of being less Indian in India.

Discerning the Foreclosed Boundaries of Being an Indian Christian

There is space or site that is being construed for the Christians of India. It is a site or space which Christians are to occupy in the imaginary of India. It is a site of subjectification where by the subjecthood of Christians is constituted in India. A Christian is a bound subject in India. The term subject in this context has to be primarily understood as a linguistic category, a kind of place holder where an Individual Christian comes to occupy the site. It is within this bound framework that Christians are understood in India. It is by subjecting to this dynamic, entangled socio-politico-psychological space that a Christian emerges as a subject. Hence, this socio-politico-psychological place holder exerts power and also becomes a site wherein a Christian submits to subjection and emerges as a subject in India. Thus, in some way, Christians collaborate and invest in the reproduction of the geography of closure that has been weaved to deal with the trauma of colonization.

 Geography of Closure

The position of the boundaries of inclusion and exclusion is a fruit of the psychic life of power and is responsible for the dynamic construction of chora or the place holder for the emergence of a subject. The chora determines the boundaries of self and its other. The place holder/ chora is discursively produced and is pressed on to subject who actively internalizes it.  The chora simultaneously become a space through which the subject seeks closure of the colonial trauma. By assigning a place to its other, the colonially displaced subject attempts to seek to numb and tranquilize the discomfort of colonization. The loss of self under colonization is recovered through an active construction of the chora through which one seeks to insulate oneself from the pain of the past that afflicts the present.   In the act of assigning a space for its other, the self appropriates its own space.  The condition of subordination to the dynamic chora  makes possible the assumption of power. This assumption of power is tied to its conditions of  productions but in an ambivalent manner. This means that the power assumed may at once retain and resist subordination. From our discussion, we notice that a Christian is a bound subject whose legitimate existence is under interrogation, whereby the Indian-ness of a Christian is abjected. Thus, being under-interrogation brings a sense of being un-homed and there is a tendency to submit to the subjection position or chora  imposed on them. Thus, the power not only acts on a Christian subject but in a transitive sense enacts him/her into being a subject.  But a Christian subject is not merely an effect of power but can claim to incarnate power that a Christian as a subject effects.  `

Constricted Imaginaries

The dynamic chora that we have discussed introduces other foreclosures. It somehow constricts and tethers our imagination. This restricts our creative investments as our consciousness remains encaged and captive to limited possibilities that can be imagined by us.  Of course, the constricted imaginaries reflect and signify a self opted space of belonging which constitute a stable core and mark out and differentiate the inside from the outside. This brings to birth the imagined identities that foreclose our selfhood and restrict other possibilities of self creation. This means that we become captive to arbitrary dividing lines that function on the social, cultural, religious, and psychic levels. We territorialize ourselves by defining our ‘ins and outs’. The territorialisation of self brings about the de-territorialisation of its other through the foreclosure of the boundaries of selfhood. But herein also lays the possibility of deconstructing the previously established boundaries that demarcate the self from its other.  This is possible through the expansion of the imaginaries which allow border crossing of the self and its other. This process is more contentious than consensual because it attempts to reclaim the dislocated space of self. That is why we notice a high sense of awareness of location and position in post-colonial India. Within this struggle to reclaim the lost space of the self, we can understand the de-territorialisation of the Indian Christians despite their  share in a relation of kinshipshhip and common Indian history. Often these imposed boundaries are appropriated by the Christians as they attempt to imagine and reclaim their space in post-colonial India.

Discursive Trauma

There are also self imposed boundaries created either consciously or unconsciously by the Christians themselves. One such foreclosure is the entire experience of colonization. Colozination has been treated like a tabula rasa even by the theologians as they seem to have no faith response to this vital experience of our country. Can we really bracket the relationship with colonization? Can we treat it merely as a footnote in our theology?  The more we attempt to forget it the more it seems to come back and haunt us. Thankfully, we can trace a glimmer of hope in the work of Samuel Rayan, SJ, particularly in his paper decolonizing theology. But the overall silence in our theologizing is disturbing. We seem to prefer silence rather than creative engagement and therapeutic dialogue with the afterlife of colonization. The colonial period cannot be put on the edge of the official history of our country. Humans are not merely shapers of history but are also shaped by history. Hence, there is an urgent need to develop a Christian response to the afterlife of colonization reigning in our society today.  The debris of the colonial past are still afflicting our people as the past continues to live in the present. We need to understand the way Christianity inhabits the imagination of our countrymen and strive to actively work to loosen the chains that entangle and nail Christians to the colonizers.  But the fact that we seem to hesitate and experience a discomfort in dealing with the colonial cloud covering the face of Christ and the Church in our country reveals profoundly that colonization as well its afterlife in our country profoundly afflicts us.  Colonization and its afterlife seem to have put us into a numbing silence. This anesthetization of our theological response may be viewed as a discursive trauma that keeps the unsaid like a ghost  lingering in everything that is said. That is, colonial trauma forecloses and controls what is said in our theological discourse. But its remnants which are otherwise suppressed and hidden oozes out somehow as an unsaid in everything that is said in our theological discourses. Hence, the challenge is to hear the voice within the voice of our theological discourse, and allow the silenced tongue to speak.

Responding to Cultural Politics

The absence of recognition has un-homing effects on the minorities in our country. This de-recognization of the other is the politics of inferiorization that can be discerned where there are hegemonies of racism, casteism, and colonialism and politics of culture as it unfolds in our county. Within this politics of de-recognition, can we try and appreciate how Christianity as a signifier is   entangled in the colonial era?  Though our attempts at inculturation have tried to overcome this othering, an un-homing process somehow persists and continues to afflict us. The un-homing process unleashed by the politics of culture pulverizes our society and requires an urgent, critical and therapeutic response.

Re-imagining other ways of Belonging to India

Following Julia Kirsteva one might have to say that the erosion of capacity to adequately respond to politics of outsidering is a sign of depression.[10]   But this retreat into an imputed history by forgetting the colonial past only manifests a lack of responsibility on our part. Perhaps this retreat of Christianity from the shadow of the colonial era may be seen as a Freudian retreat into the law of the father. Hence, there is a need to bring about a transformation of the collective psychic space of the Christians community in India. One way of achieving this is through a creative use of narrative, memory, and testimony. This might then be able to destabilize the common understanding of nation as being a product of universal abstraction. Christians then might be able to freely participate in the hope and the promise of India as a nation.  The abstract uniform national ideal fails to recognize the plural communities that inhabit our country and as such cannot be the benchmark of betrayal of our nation for every otherness that stands as an inassimilable difference in its view; it actually ends up banishing the freedom to be other in a plural India.  Christianity and other minorities being other and different remind the majority of the failure of a national ideal which is essentially marked by the idealism of being a religious subject.  The religious subject that is privileged being a Hindu, any difference inhabiting in the Christians and other minorities is viewed as not universalizable and therefore deemed as  not part of the national ideal. This certainly is unjust to Christians and other minorities whose otherness is viewed as a betrayal of the promise of a nation. Hence, this subjection has to be contested by interrogating the social and political discourses that rule the roost in our country.   This can begin by naming the process of cultural politics of identity  that strips the  minorities of legitimate belonging to our country and render them vulnerable to a disposable bare life. Hence, an obligation based on respect for otherness and accountability for the others’ obligation can motivate resistance and might bring about new modes of belonging to our country. This can open up possibilities of re-imagining other ways of being Indian. This will disentangle the primary focus on viewing citizen’s as a religious subject while we claim that we are a secular country.

Disentangling Christianity from the Relation of Coloniality

Colonization was not a unilateral process. Though it dehumanized both the colonizer and the colonized, it survived in terms of creation and maintenance of colonial dominance. The requisite behaviour to produce and maintain colonial hegemony is referred to as relation of coloniality. The relation of coloniality produces a coloniality of power. Coloniality of power is a term coined by Arnibal Quinjno to name the structures of power and hegemony that emerged in an era of colonization and  survive even in our days.[11]  The coloniality of power depended on the creation of the colonial difference whereby the natives were inferiorized and rendered willing subjects of the colonial masters.  Christianity to a large extent was used as a vehicle of coloniality of power by the colonizers to achieve their colonial hegemony. Hence, though Christianity is not reductively identifiable with colonization, it is entangled with colonization in the imagination of the natives in all post-colonial societies, particularly our society in India. Hence, the imperative to disentangle the colonial knots that entangle Christianity becomes a promise of healing and therapy to these societies. That is why, we require a concerted effort to re-imagine the trajectory of theology in our country.  To carve out a new path for theologizing in India, we need to dismantle the relation of coloniality that afflicts within as well as outside the folds of Christianity in our country.

Overcoming the Forgetting of Colonial History

The challenge to disentangle Christianity from the colonial past takes us to a disturbing aspect of our theology. It appears that there is a forgetting of history in our theology in India. We seem to have a certain discomfort when dealing with our colonial past. Unfortunately, this forgetting of history only reinforces the entangled hermeneutics of our fellow countrymen. The entangled hermeneutics views Christians through the trauma of the colonial past. The Indian plural Mythos is disrupted by the complex colonial pathos and Christianity is trapped within the boundaries of the colonial matrix. We can no longer occlude colonial history from our theology. Hence, there is need for broadening the horizons of inculturation. Perhaps, Incultration has to be viewed as overcoming alienation as taught by George M. S Prabhu. Keith D’souza succinctly draws Prabhu’s path when he says “while for the West, Inculturation as a theological enterprise would entail aggiornamento within one’s cultural stream, for us in India; it would entail a process of ‘decolonization’. [12]  Until we become fully aware of the colonial consciousness, we cannot necessarily work to disentangle Indian Christianity fully from the colonial baggage.  India is yet to reach it’s de-colonial moment and Christianity with its profound resources can bring about this process.  Hence, an awareness of our colonial consciousness may be of therapeutic value for us and we might thus overcome our discomfort with the colonial past and thus prevail over this de-historicized condition of theology both in Asia and in our country.  Indeed, the treatment of the colonial past as a tabula rasa is afflicting us and our people.  Hence, it is an imperative of faith that we as   theologians in India  bring our colonial past and it’s after life at the feet of Christ.

 Unmaking the Un-homing Habitus

Pierre Bourdie ‘s notion Habitus[13] conceptualizes the way society gets deposited in the individuals in the form of lasting dispositions or trained capacities to think, feel, and act. These dispositions are acquired without formal learning. There appears to be a habitus that seems to generate dispositions that leads a section of the people in our country   to un-home the Christians, women, tribals and other minorities.  Though a habitus is enduring and transferable it can also be changed. Hence, we have the challenge to unmake the un-homing habitus reigning in our country. I find that  this noble task can be done from a marginal location like Goa.

Decolonizing Theology  

The colonial entanglement of theology is succinctly brought out in the open by Samuel Rayan SJ. He courageously manifests how a triumphant subliminal messianism seems to have sanctified the colonizing drive of the Europeans.[14] The Church saw colonial expansion as a God-given opportunity to save souls. We saw the second coming of Constantine Christianity with the spiritual authority being given to the kings of Portugal and Spain by Pope Alexander VI 1494.[15] As a result a potted Christianity or Western Church was transplanted in the newly discovered lands.[16] Theologies churned out in western academia began to be imported in these churches even in post-colonial times. These theologies were chiefly otherworldly and found favour among the colonizers. Thus, the theology that accompanied the colonizers failed to lead Christianity to become incarnate in the local cultures as well as to a large extent occluded the prophetic mission of the Church.  There seemed to be no gospel for the poor in colonial times. Hence, there is the imperative to de-colonize theology so that we can have an authentically liberated and liberating theology.  The project of de-colonization is complex and would become a way of the cross for us.  This would also require a reinterpretation of Christian symbols tainted by the colonial era. Thus, for instance, the symbolism of the cross that has the stains of the colonial era has to be de-colonized so that we can overcome alienation of Christianity in India.  Among the early Christians, the cross was the symbol of the suffering Christ. With the conversion of Emperor Constantine, and  Christianity emerging as the official religion of the Roman Empire, steadily the cross acquired new a signification that with the rise of emperor Charlemagne became a symbol of military victory and came to represent Christ the conqueror.[17] The Portuguese converted the cross into a symbol of their fatherland during their overseas mission in search of Christians and spices. The overseas mission of  the Portuguese have been viewed as extension of the crusades. This is because the moors constituted their chief rivals in the spice  trade and were their hated religious enemies.  This brought about a collapse of religion, politics and economics. Hence, drawing upon the symbolism of the suffering Christ can help us view Christ crucified in our society and thus re-interpret  the Cross for our country.

Resisting the Neo-civilizing mission    

The plural ethos of our country is in danger of being assimilated into  a monocultured singularized culture and religion. Suddenly our plural past, geographies and anthropologies are made to look incompatible, incommensurable and irreconcilable with our India as a nation.  The civilizing mission of the colonizer is  now reproduced by the mimic men of the colonizers, the hindutva fanatics. They produce the self of the colonizer in matter and form. The matter is replaced by the Hindu tradition while the monoculturing form remains congruent with that used by the colonizers.   Goa can provide a critical space that can open another window to India. Unfortunately, Indian Intelligentsia are largely trapped in the discourses that have their basis in British orientalism.  Goa can provide an alternate space to picture India even before the political and geographical boundaries of our country were fixed. The other orientalism and the different mode of colonization of the Portuguese that foreruns the British colonization of India by two hundred years can open new vistas.  That is why to resist and respond effectively to the neo-civilizing mission unleashed by the hindutva forces, we need to redeploy the other orientalism of the Portuguese and manifest how our plural geographies, pasts and anthropologies were steadily kept under erasure by the British. This will help us deconstruct the tendency to monoculture the dynamic and evolutionary pasts of our country and demonstrate that our country was not merely a kind of tabula rasa with Hinduism written all over it.  This reductive vision of our country defines the relation of the self and the other and often throws up feelings of hate and disgust which lead the majority to treat the minorities as abjects that defiles the self. The abject thus threatens the subject since it is perceived as opposed to the ‘I’ and rival in the share of the common life promised by the nation. Hence, it is important to open the narrow narrative that conditions the way we live out our belonging to our country and one another. The expansion of the narrative is possible from Goa since Goa itself was not part of the narrow and frozen narrative (that puts on the mask of being national) that is being forced on the rest of us.  Hence, a re-narrativization of the narrative of our country that will accommodate its plural ethos is the ethical imperative of the hour and we can creatively and prophetically attempt to do it from Goa.

Theologizing the Colonial Context

Theology cannot keep the colonial era under erasure.    The colonial context is not a tabula rasa  that does not affect the post-colonial condition of our country. It certainly afflicts us and our people. One might respond to it by theologizing colonialism from a pluritopical hermeneutical[18] position that remains open to the pluriversal. The universalization of universality was part of the imperial colonial project. In fact it was presumed that all civilization is based on the notion of universality as conceptualized in the West. Hence, we can trace how that which is universalizable is identifiable with the universalizing imperialism of the West and is  unconsciously imitated in matter and form by the local elite who chooses to universalize a local history, culture, and religion for the rest of us in India. Hence, these power elites are cloning the imperial designs of their colonial masters in the local contexts of our country, homogenizing and universalizing reductively the pluriversal ethos of our country. Hence, theological response to our collective colonial experience cannot reproduce it in the image and likeness of colonial imperialism. Moreover, we have a pluralism of colonialisms in India and therefore we  cannot universalized colonialism into one British era.  Hence, a pluri-topical hermeneutics is an apt tool to develop a faith response to our complex colonial past that afflicts our living present.  Pluri-topical hermeneutics is an entangled hermeneutics that is open to trauma, pain, as well as power differential that can affect our understanding. Hence, our theological matrix dwells in the colonial era and attempts to disentangle the reduction and identification of Christianity with colonization while responding to the complexity of the colonial past. Thus, a de-colonial thinking as well as  de-colonial theologizing can be critically generated from Goa, since Goa has a colonial experience of four hundred and  fifty years. The entangled hermeneutics is a kind of senti-pensar (a feeling-thinking) that is open to a pluri-logical dialogue with the past as well as the present. Such a pluri-logue would open a plural space of interpretation so that the multi-temporal heterogeneity of the post-colonial condition can be illumined by the light of revelation in the Jesus Christ. Hence, the pluri-logue that deals with the multiple pasts residing in the present of our country can be indeed therapeutic.

 Therapeutic Dialogue

The pluri-logue is required to deal with the multi-layered and intensely multi-temporal and heterogeneous past that lives in the present of our country. The colonial past and its varied degrees of impact on diverse communities and their cultures and religions still afflict in multiple ways our society today. Hence, a therapeutic dialogue can certainly play an effective role in liberating us and society.

Understanding Multi-temporal Heterogeneity

We as beings-in-the-world experience a depth dimension as far as time is concerned. Our lived time is intertwined to the past and the future. The past and the projected future are embedded and reside in the present. We humanize ourselves by historizing ourselves in our dynamic context.  Our present is experienced as pregnant with multiple temporal layers that give us possibilities of being-in-the-world. Time is experienced as thick and dense while lending us the possibilities of making ourselves. The complex texture of time conditions the way we territorialize and humanize ourselves in our dynamic context. Indeed, time becomes figural and we experience multiple layers of meanings laden in time being released through the process of historization. The entangled, intertwined and embedded layers of time disentangle and resonate with living and dynamic contexts and condition in our life. Hence, we can trace among other things the colonial past dwelling in the present of our country. That is why we cannot oversimplify and linearize the flow of time. Time is not merely chronological but may be viewed as inundated with layers of temporalities that are complexly synchronous. This means that  we encounter multiple temporalities intensely affecting the condition of our being in the world.  Thus, time is bound to heterogeneous temporalities that are available for humanity to embark on the dynamic construction of the self and its other. Hence, we might understand why the colonial trauma continues to afflict our countrymen and how the colonial temporalities colour and condition the way we create ourselves and the other in  society. Time being profoundly social, the unresolved colonial pain and sense of loss of self as well as sense of loss of telos of time under colonization generates a dynamism of recovery of the lost self and lost telos and  continues to afflict us in our days as an unfinished business. We can clearly trace this dynamism in Post-colonial society in  our country  and Goa as we immerse ourselves in the ceaseless flow of multi-temporalities embedded in time.

Understanding the Kairological Intensity  of the Paschal Mystery 

We experience time bound to multi-temporalities in our everyday life. We experience time as chronos that is intertwined and intersecting with multi-temporalities that are synchronous and are experienced as interruptive, disruptive, irruptive and even corruptive. Besides time as inundated chronos we also experience kairos , the time concentrated by the presence and grace  of God. This is fullness of time or what can be viewed as unbound time. As unbound time, we cannot objectify and describe it in our essentialist and positivist terms. It is dynamic presencing that happens all around us in the mode of absencing. The kairos carries within it the intensity of the Paschal Mystery that can cross the boundaries of our bound temporalities and bring about a wholesome healing of our selves, so that we are enabled to deal with the broken layers of temporalities in our life and our society. Thus kairos intersects with the chronos and sets it free from everything that binds and nails it.  As we historize drawing from our resourceful past and a promised future of possibilities, the grace emanating from the Paschal Mystery becomes available to illumine our path to a salubrious self creation and its relations with its other. That is why it is an imperative of catholic faith to bring the web of multiple-temporalities that shape our life and our society in our country under the horizon of the Paschal Mystery. Hence, a pluri-loge with the multi-temporalities embedded in the experience of time in the power of our catholic faith becomes a way of letting the salvific power of the Paschal Mystery take charge of temporalities that bind and impede our self creation and the relations with the other in society.

Fusion of Horizons

Pluri-logue being poly-logue can bring the horizons of multi-temporalities in dialogue with the horizons of the Paschal Mystery.  This fusion of horizons is salubrious as is merges the saving and healing power of the Paschal Mystery with the fragmented and broken temporalities that afflict our society. Although, like every human, we are embedded in the bounds of multi-temporalities of our experience, our Christian faith leads us to open ourselves to kairos which is synchronically presencing itself with the flow of our life. This openness to the Paschal Mystery becomes the driving force that leads us to interrogate the rendering of the colonial era as a tabula rasa and challenge us to break the walls that have successfully kept it under erasure as we theologize in our country.  Hence, the pluri-logue that we have proposed in this study is an invitation to an authentic intra-logue that opens up possibilities that can allow the complex colonial era to come under the feet of Christ and disentangle Christianity from its inter-locked condition with the colonizers in our country. This intra-logue has the potential to re-invigorate a theologizing that will not keep colonization under erasure but strive to bring the light of revelation on it and attempt to bring wholesome healing to its afterlife that is afflicting our society in our country. This means that the intra-logue leads us towards an extra-logue that is at once complex and thus becomes a pluri-logue. The pluri-logue is a salubrious dialogue with the religions, pasts, cultures, aspirations, hopes, and traumas,  etc., of the peoples of  our country. It is    one that will transform our theologizing into a language/glossia that will lead Christ to become all to all.


We have tried to understand how the colonial past afflicts the Post-colonial society in our country.  We have seen that somehow, we  are creating the self of the colonizers in matter and form. The matter is Indic while the form remains western. Hence in complex ways we are entangled in the colonial trauma in our living present. This has produced a theological silence on the era of colonization. Somehow, Christians seem to have rendered the colonial era into a tabula rasa and have tried to suppress colonial pain by keeping it under erasure. But the complex and dynamic afterlife of colonization has come back to haunt us. Hence, we have an imperative of faith to dis-entangle Christianity from the colonial tangle. A new way of theologizing that will become a sensitive pluri-logue and to the multi-temporalities affecting our living present is the salubrious way ahead for Christians in India.

[1] See Mark G. Brett, Decolonizing God: Bible in the Tides of Empire (Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2008), p. 7-8.

[2] See Claude Alvares and Norma Alvares, “The Christian and the Wild’ in Teotonio  R. de Souza, Ed., Discoveries Missionary Expansion and Asian Cultures ( New Delhi: Concept Publishing Company , 1994), pp. 19-31.

[3] Homi K. Bhabha, The Location of Culture (New York: Routlege, 1994), p. 40.

[4]  Ashish Nandy, The Intimate Enemy: Loss and Recovery of Self under Colonization (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1983), p. 11.

[5] Ibid, p.1.

[6] Ibid, p.1.

[7] Judith Butler, The Psychic Life of Power: Theories in Subjection (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1997) p. 3.

[8] Ibid, p. 5.

[9] Julia Kristeva, Powers of Horror : an Essay on Abjection, Trans., Leon S. Roudiez (New York:  Columbia University Press, 1982).

[10] Tina Charter and Ewa Plonowaska Ziarek, (Eds.),  Revolt, Affect, Collectivity: the Unstable Boundaries of Kristeva Polis (Albany: State University of New York, 2005), p. 3.

[11] accessed on 4th December 2014.

[12]  Kieth D’souza S. J. “George M. Soares –Prabhu, S.J.: a Theologian for our Times”, in Francis X D’sa, The Dharma of Jesus : Interdisciplinary Essays in Memory of  George Soares-Prabu S.J (Anand: Gujarat Sahitya Prakash, 1997)p. 10.

[13] See Pierre Bourdie, Physical Space, Social Space and Habitus  (Blindern: University of Olso, 1995) ,pp. 15-17.

[14] Kurien Kunnumpuram, Collected Writings of Samuel Rayan, SJ, Vol . II  ( Delhi : ISPCK, 2013), p 29.

[15]  Ibid .

[16] Ibid., p. 30.

[17] Rovena Robinson, Boundaries of Religion : Essays on Christianity, Ethnic Conflict and Violence ( New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2013, pp. 26- 27.

[18] See Walter D. Mignolo, Coloniality, Subaltern Knowledge, and Border Thinking: Local Histories/Global Designs (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2000), pp.14-18.

1 Comment

  1. jnanamrit
    June 20, 2022

    Thank you for interest and comment!


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