Symposium Introduction

Panelists

Colin Cornell
Francisco Pelaez
Melanie Webb
Joshua Samuel

 

Overview

This book argues that an active memory of and grief over structural wrongs yields positive agency. Such agency generates rites of moral responsibility that serve as antidotes to violent identities and catalyze hospitable social practices. By comparing Indian and U.S. contexts of caste and race, Sunder John Boopalan proposes that wrongs today are better understood as rituals of humiliation which are socially conditioned practices of domination affected by discriminatory logics of the past. Grief can be redressive by transforming violent identities and hostile in-group/out-group differences when guided by a liberative political theological imagination. This volume facilitates interdisciplinary conversations between theorists and theologians of caste and race, and those interested in understanding the relation between religion and power.

 

Reviews and Endorsements

“One of the most comprehensive theological books ever written comparing and contrasting caste (India) and race (USA). And with his innovate phrase, “rituals of humiliation,” Boopalan advances theory, theology, and a way out of the harmful caste-race discrimination, in order for us to build healthy communities today. Rarely do we get such a sophisticated analysis that is both descriptive and prescriptive. This book gifts us with the way toward positive collective and individual identify formations. In a word, out of memory and grief comes human agency.” —Dwight N. Hopkins, author of Black Theology: Essays on Gender Perspectives; Black Theology: Essays on Global Perspectives, University of Chicago, USA

“Memory, Grief, and Agency is painstakingly and ingeniously researched, precisely and appealingly designed, and cleverly and creatively argued from beginning to end. In solidarity with historically “counted out” bodies (Dalits, alongside Blacks and Women), Boopalan imaginatively employs an eclectic crowd of theorists to exegete the grammar of shamed yet resistant bodies in search of their personal and social liberation. This book has decisively advanced the fields of Dalit studies, liberation theology, and social ethics.”
–Sathianathan Clarke, author of Competing Fundamentalisms, Wesley Theological Seminary, USA)

“By using rituals of humiliation as critical lenses, Boopalan offers an exciting cross-cultural interpretation of oppression based on caste, race, and gender. This book makes a critical contribution to political theology by discussing memory, grief, and agency and by offering resources for faith communities to address wrongs. Must reading for anyone engaged in social transformation.”
–Kwok Pui-lan, author of Postcolonial Imagination and Feminist Theology, Episcopal Divinity School, USA

“Boopalan’s Memory, Grief, and Agency is a creative and original piece of work. This text, focussing on corporeal analysis, provides an alternative vista to the material on Dalit theology and the impact of caste on Dalits in the Indian context. This text also provides helpful analysis to the growing material on embodiment and body theology within the contemporary development of contextual theologies in the US and across the world. An important feature of this work is its cross-cultural perspectives, as the author uses his own experiences living as an Indian in the US, as a form of auto-ethnographic, narrative form of subjective analysis that juxtaposes Indian and US contexts, bringing caste and race based forms of oppression into conversation, via the centrality of the body, in some cases, his own specific, particular body. This is a bold and innovative text that will be a must read for many years to come.”
–Anthony G. Reddie, Editor of Black Theology: An International Journal, University of South Africa

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