faculty

Chandra Mallampalli, Ph.D.

Fletcher Jones Chair of Social Sciences and Professor of History. He will be on research leave at Harvard Divinity School for the 2021-2022 academic year.
(805) 565-6139

Office Location

Deane Hall 205

Office Available

Only by appointment. 

Specialization(s)

Modern South Asia
 

Research Interests

Dr. Mallampalli has finished a new book entitled South Asia's Christians: Between Hindu and Muslim, Oxford Studies, World Christianity Series. It will be available February 17, 2023. 

South Asia is home to more than a billion Hindus and half a billion Muslims. But the region is also home to substantial Christian communities, some dating almost to the earliest days of the faith. The stories of South Asia's Christians are vital for understanding the shifting contours of World Christianity, precisely because of their history of interaction with members of these other religious traditions. In this broad, accessible overview of South Asian Christianity, Chandra Mallampalli shows how the faith has been shaped by Christians' location between Hindus and Muslims.

Dr. Mallampalli begins with a discussion of South India's ancient Thomas Christian tradition, which interacted with West Asia's Persian Christians and thrived for centuries alongside their Hindu and Muslim neighbours. He then underscores efforts of Roman Catholic and Protestant missionaries to understand South Asian societies for purposes of conversion. The publication of books and tracts about other religions, interreligious debates, and aggressive preaching were central to these endeavours, but rarely succeeded at yielding converts. Instead, they played an important role in producing a climate of religious competition, which ultimately marginalized Christians in Hindu-, Muslim-, and Buddhist-majority countries of post-colonial South Asia. Ironically, the greatest response to Christianity came from poor and oppressed Dalit (formerly "untouchable") and tribal communities who were largely indifferent to missionary rhetoric. Their mass conversions, poetry, theology, and embrace of Pentecostalism are essential for understanding South Asian Christianity and its place within World Christianity today.

Biography/Details

Chandra Mallampalli earned his doctorate in South Asian History from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  Prior to earning his Ph.D. he studied theology and worked as a journalist in South Asia. He is the  author of four books and many scholarly articles, which address the intersection of religion, law and society in colonial India.  At Westmont, Professor Mallampalli teaches courses in World History, Modern South Asia, British Empire, and comparative Asian history. He is a Life Member of Clare Hall, Cambridge University and is married to Beverly Chen, a licensed clinical social worker and therapist.

Website

Recent Articles/ Book Chapters

"A Fondness for Military Display: Conquest and Intrigue in South India during the First Anglo-Afghan War, 1839-40," Journal of Asian StudiesVol. 77, No.1 (Feb. 2018), 139-159.

"Slaying Men with Faces of Women: Liberalism and patronage in the trial of a South Indian maulvi, 1839-40," Modern Asian Studies, Vol. 51, No. 3, May 2017, 825-66.

"The Orientalist Framework of Religious Conversion in India," in David Maxwell, Joel Cabrita (eds.), Relocating World Christianity: Interdisciplinary Studies in Universal and Local Expressions of the Christian faith (Leiden:  E.J. Brill, 2017), 162-88.

Books

A Muslim Conspiracy in British India? Politics and Paranoia in the Early Nineteenth Century Deccan. (Cambridge University Press, 2017).

Race, Religion, and Law in Colonial India (Cambridge University Press, 2011).

Christians and Public Life in Colonial South India (RoutledgeCurzon, 2004).