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Melancholia of FreedomSocial Life in an Indian Township in South Africa$
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Thomas Blom Hansen

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780691152950

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691152950.001.0001

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The Saved and the Backsliders

The Saved and the Backsliders

The Charou Soul and the Instability of Belief

(p.261) Chapter 8 The Saved and the Backsliders
Melancholia of Freedom

Thomas Blom Hansen

Princeton University Press

This chapter explores how the process of reevaluating one's past and reaching for a future beyond a clear ethnoracial definition is played out among the thousands of ordinary working-class Indians in Chatsworth and elsewhere who convert to Pentecostal Christianity. These conversions, which have gathered significant force since 1994, reflect a desire for respectability and purity, but even more so a powerful attempt to find a religious identity that seems both intelligible and in tune with the culture of the larger South Africa society. The chapter considers how these church communities, among many other things, negotiate new forms of inclusion and embody a promise of being both included in the new nation and global yet decidedly and conspicuously nonpolitical.

Keywords:   ethnoracial definition, working-class Indians, Chatsworth, Pentecostal Christianity, religious identity, South Africa, church communities

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