The introduction begins by describing the stark racialized division between Dalits and non-Dalits in India, noting that it derives from a usually unacknowledged legacy of slavery. It then explains the book’s arguments by chapter. The book provides an analysis of a widespread movement to convert Dalits to Pentecostal Christianity, which is taking place in a slum in the south Indian city of Chennai. It describes how slum dwellers understand religion in the context of their social and political-economic situations as marginalized residents of an urban periphery. It contrasts this picture with how religion is conceptualized by national elites, and in Indian law, which seeks to ban conversions that are allegedly not “genuine” because they focus on material well-being—exactly the kinds of conversion taking place in the slum.
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