Unjacketed Hardcover

To Be Cared For

The Power of Conversion and Foreignness of Belonging in an Indian Slum

Nathaniel Roberts (Author)

Available worldwide exc Not available in South Asia

Unjacketed Hardcover, 312 pages
ISBN: 9780520288812
April 2016
$85.00, £71.00
Other Formats Available:
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.
Nathaniel Roberts is Research Fellow at the Centre for Modern Indian Studies, University of Göttingen. 
"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
"To be Cared For is a richly layered critique of elite discourses and anxieties about caste and conversion in India through a moving and insightful ethnography of religious practices and morality among the profoundly dispossessed. At once about caste, gender, hunger, injustice, and caring, this beautifully written book carries an analytical heft rarely seen in such grounded ethnographies."
—Raka Ray, Professor of Sociology and South and Southeast Asia Studies, University of California, Berkeley
"This is a remarkable book, supported by painstaking ethnographic research and written with clarity and sensitivity. To Be Cared For takes a hugely complex subject and gives us new points of departure. It shows how anthropological approaches to religion, identity, and conversion need to change. It helps the reader rethink the nature of religion, culture, and truth—matters urgent to people facing discrimination, extreme poverty, and acute uncertainty."
—David Mosse, Professor of Anthropology, School of African and Oriental Studies, University of London
"This remarkable ethnography tells a fascinating story with critical skill and compassion. Religion here is how people live, not what official doctrine says. Nathaniel Roberts gives us a complicated picture of moral contradictions and religious insights. This book is essential reading for anthropologists and others interested in the roles of religion in the modern world."
—Talal Asad, Distinguished Professor of Anthropology, the Graduate Center, City University of New York

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