Colonial rule, Christianity and sociocultural (dis)continuities among the Sumi Naga
In this paper, I explore contemporary identity construction processes among the Sumi of Nagaland, Northeast India by analysing the continuities and discontinuities in socio-cultural custom that have been effected by a number of agents of social change in the course of the twentieth century. With a particular focus on the history and contemporary significance of Baptist Christianity among the Sumi, the paper demonstrates that even though Christian conversions have entailed certain discontinuities in the socio-cultural traditions of this community, a number of continuities have persisted and come to shape the ways in which contemporary Sumi identity is being reconstituted. The paper argues that as a result, Christianity should not be viewed merely as a major agent of socio-cultural change among the Sumi but as an intrinsic part of their contemporary identity and a vital constitutive part of a ‘new tradition’ that is currently in the making: one, which is creatively embedding Christianity within a solid substratum of cultural reproduction. In so doing, the paper opens up new ways in which we can think about the effects and legacies of missionary activity in Northeast India.
Achumi, G. 2011. The essence of Sumi ethnic traditional and modern attire. Kohima: published by the author.
Anderson, B.I. 1978. A brief historical sketch of the American Baptist Mission work in the Sema Naga tribe, Nagaland. In Sema Baptist Diamond Jubilee Souvenir 1904-1978. Aizuto, Nagaland: no publisher information.
Angelova, I. forthcoming, 2017. Identity change and the construction of difference: colonial and post-colonial conversions among the Sumi Naga of Nagaland, Northeast India. In Modalities of conversion in India (eds) P. Berger and S. Sahoo. New Delhi: Cambridge University Press.
Angelova, I. 2015. 'Something like wind, unusual thing came': the Great Evangelical Revivals of the 1950s and 1970s in the memories of some Sumi Naga. In Passing things on: ancestors and genealogies in Northeast India (ed) M. Heneise. Dimapur, Nagaland: Heritage Publishing House.
Ao, A.B. 2002. History of Christianity in Nagaland: the Ao Naga tribal Christian mission enterprise 1872-1972. Mokokchung: Shalom Ministry Publication.
Assumi, Z. 2009. The Sumi Ahuna. Dimapur: Heritage Publishing House.
Aye, K. 2005. The impact of Christian education (100 years of Christianity in Sumi Baptist Churches, 1903-2003). Dimapur: Christian Education Ministry.
Berliner, D. and R. Sarró. 2007. On learning religion: an introduction. In Learning religion: anthropological approaches (eds) D. Berliner and R. Sarró. Oxford: Berghahn Books.
Bourdieu, P. 1977. Outline of a theory of practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Brackney, W. 1990. American Baptist Churches in the USA. In Dictionary of Christianity in America (ed) D. Reid.
Downers Grove (Illinois): Intervarsity Press.
Butler, J. 1855. Travels and adventures in the Province of Assam during a residence of fourteen years. London.
Cannell, F. 2006. Introduction: the anthropology of Christianity. In The anthropology of Christianity (ed) F. Cannell. Durham: Duke University Press.
Chishi, V. 2003. A strategy for the unification of the Sumi Baptist Church through understanding the Revival movement and its application (a history of the Sumi Baptist Church beginning from 1904). Dimapur: Revd Inaho Kinnimi Memorial Trust.
Chishi Swu, I. 2004. Ashu Kushe (2004 Sumi Christian Centenary, In Memory of Kushe Chishilimi). Dimapur, Nagaland: Kushe Humanity Foundation.
Chophy, G.K. 2015. An incongruent inheritance: the anthropology of J.H. Hutton and the Sema Nagas. In Eastern Anthropologist 68, 327-340.
Davis, A.W. 1891. Report on the tribal population of the Province of Assam. In Census of India 1891, Assam, vol. I.
Downs, F. 1992. History of Christianity in India, volume 5 (North-east India in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries), part 5. Bangalore: The Church History Association of India.
Eaton, R. 1984. Conversion to Christianity among the Nagas, 1876-1971. In Indian Economic and Social History Review 21, 1-44.
Elwin, V. 1959. India’s north-east frontier in the nineteenth century. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Elwin, V. 1961. Nagaland. Shillong: Research Department, Adviser’s Secretariat.
Elwin, V. 1969. The Nagas in the nineteenth century (ed). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Engelke, M. 2004. Discontinuity and the discourse of conversion. In Journal of Religion in Africa 34, 82-109.
Fürer-Haimendorf, C. von. 1982. Tribes of India: the struggle for survival. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Graham, B. and P. Howard. 2008. Introduction: heritage and identity. In The Ashgate research companion to heritage and identity (eds) B. Graham and P. Howard. Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing.
Haskar, N. and L. Luithui. 1984. Nagaland file: a question of human rights. New Delhi: Lancer International.
Hefner, R. 1993. Introduction: world building and the rationality of conversion. In Conversion to Christianity (historical and anthropological perspectives on a great transformation) (ed) R. Hefner. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Hutton, J. H. 1921a. The Sema Nagas. London: Macmillan & Co.
Hutton, J. H. 1921b. The Angami Nagas. London: Macmillan & Co.
Hutton, J.H. 1965. The mixed culture of the Naga tribes. In Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland 95, 16-43.
Iralu, K. 2009. The Naga saga: a historical account of the 62 years of Indo-Naga war and the story of those who were never allowed to tell it. Kohima: published by the author.
Johnstone, J. 1896. My experiences in Manipur and the Naga Hills. London: Sampson Low, Marston and Company.
Joshi, V. 2012. A matter of belief: Christian conversion and healing in Northeast India. Oxford: Berghahn Books.
Keane, W. 2007. Christian moderns: freedom and fetish in the mission encounter. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Kiho, T. 2004. The impact of Christianity on the Sumi tribe (with special reference to Sumi Aphuyemi Baptist Church Association). Dimapur: published by the author.
Longkumer, A. 2013. Who sings for the Hornbill?: the performance and politics of culture in Nagaland, Northeast India. In The South Asianist 2 (2), 87-96.
Luhrmann, T. 2012. When God talks back: understanding the American evangelical relationship with God. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
Mackenzie, A. 1884. History of the relations of the Government with the Hill Tribes of the North-East frontier of Bengal. Calcutta: no publisher information.
Maxwell, N. 1980. India, the Nagas and the Northeast. London: Minority Rights Group.
Mauss, M. 1979. Body techniques, in his Sociology and psychology (essays), trans. by B. Brewster. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.
Miller, D. 2003. Why some things matter. In Material cultures: why some things matter (ed) D. Miller. London: Routledge.
Mills, J.P. 1922. The Lhota Nagas. London: Macmillan & Co.
Mills, J.P. 1926. The Ao Nagas. London: Macmillan & Co.
Mills, J.P. 1937. The Rengma Nagas. London: Macmillan & Co.
Mosse, D. 1999. Responding to subordination: identity and change among South Indian Untouchable castes. In Identity and affect: experiences of identity in a globalising world (eds) J. Campbell and A. Rew. London: Pluto Press.
Ngully, M. 2015. Stories in a curiosity box: John Henry Hutton administrator-collector in the Naga Hills. In Passing things on: ancestors and genealogies in Northeast India (ed) M. Heneise. Dimapur, Nagaland: Heritage Publishing House.
Padel, F. 1995. The sacrifice of human being (British rule and the Konds of Orissa). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Patnaik, S.M. 2014. Consuming culture: the refiguration of aesthetics in Nagaland cultural tourism in India’s North East. In Arts and aesthetics in a globalizing world (eds) R. Kaur and P. D. Mukherji. London: Bloomsbury Academic.
Peal, S.E. 1874. The Nagas and neighbouring tribes. In The Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland 3, 476-481.
Robbins, J. 2004. Becoming sinners: Christianity and moral torment in a Papua New Guinea society. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Robinson, W. 1841. A descriptive account of Asam: with a sketch of the local geography and a concise history of the tea-plant of Asam, to which is added a short account of the neighbouring tribes, exhibiting their history, manners, and customs. Delhi: Sanskaran Prakashak (a reprint of the 1841 edition, Ostell and Lepage, Calcutta).
Sema, P. 1992. British policy and administration in Nagaland 1881-1947. New Delhi: Scholar Publishing House.
Smith, L. 2006. Uses of heritage. London: Routledge.
Stockhausen, A. von and M. Wettstein. 2008. ‘Cultural extravagance’ and the search for identity in present-day Nagaland. In Naga: a forgotten mountain region rediscovered (eds) R. Kunz and V. Joshi. Basel: Museum der Kulturen Basel.
Tunbridge, J. and G. Ashworth. 1996. Dissonant heritage: the management of the past as a resource in conflict. Chichester: Wiley.
Woodthorpe, R.G. 1882. Notes on the wild tribes inhabiting the so-called Naga Hills, on our North-East Frontier of India, part II. In Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland 11, 196-214.
Yeptho, N. 1991. Sumi chine eno apine jeliqo (Sumi rites and prohibitions). Jorhat: Assam Printing Works Ltd.
Yeptho, H. 2011. Lycanthropy revisited. Published by Philemon Quinker, Sub-divisional officer, Tuensang, Nagaland.
Zhimomi, V.H. 1985. Sumi kughuko eno aqo-aho kuxu (Sumi genealogy and socio-customary life). Kohima: Modern Press.
Zhimomi, H. 2012. Pioneer Sumi and mission. Pughoboto: published by Yeppo Educational Trust.
Archer, W.G. 1947. Typescript tour diary, 12/01/1947, 'Sema attitudes to young men’s' houses (Apuki) and the effect of Christianity'. Record R65545 in The Naga Database http://himalaya.socanth.cam.ac.uk/collections/naga/record/r65545.html. (Accessed on 16 July 2013).
Minutes 1936. Assam Baptist Missionary Conference, 3-6 February 1936, Jorhat (Assam). Archive of the Council of Baptist Churches of Northeast India, Guwahati. (Accessed on 5 October 2011).
Report 1936. Assam Baptist Missionary Conference, 1-6 December 1936, Gauhati (Assam). Archive of the Council of Baptist Churches of Northeast India, Guwahati. (Accessed on 5 October 2011).
Baptist Missionary Magazine (1873-1909), Jun 1901, 81 (6). American Periodicals Series Online. Accessed via the Oxford Library e-Journals system.
NBCC Platinum Jubilee Souvenir. 2012. One new humanity in Christ: Nagaland Baptist Church Council celebrates Platinum Jubilee 1937-2012. Kohima: NBCC.
NCRC Souvenir. 2012. Nagaland Christian Revival Church, Souvenir Revival: Golden Jubilee (1962-2012). No publication details.
This is an Open Access journal. All material is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) licence, unless otherwise stated.
Please read our Open Access, Copyright and Permissions policies for more information.