Negotiating Identities: The Journey of Roman Catholic and Protestant Clergy in India

Sharal T. Correa, Neeta Inamdar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Diversity is a defining feature of India, a multireligious, multicultural, and multilingual country. Throughout its history, there have been cultural encounters with different ideas, beliefs, and people. Though Hindus constitute the majority, Muslims, Christians, Jains, Sikhs, and others have been a part of this mosaic and cultural engagements and negotiations continue even today between them. Therefore, cross-cultural adaptation is of paramount importance in the Indian multicultural context, where individuals interact with new and unknown cultures and are motivated to accommodate one another's cultural similarities and differences and are on the lookout for fundamental human commonalities. Religious leaders from the Indian Christian community naturally come under the category of persons who engage with individuals and groups from diverse cultures as an extension to their vocation of pastoral service. Subsequently, it may be noted that many Christian religious leaders have documented their personal experiences and cultural encounters which are chronicled as autobiographies that possibly will help us understand how the Christian clergy engage with the society at large, and how, as a part of the cross-cultural adaption process, they negotiate their social or cultural identities in a religiously and culturally diverse country like India. Two such autobiographies, titled “Unbeaten Paths” and “Kristana Karuneya Belakinalli” (In the Light of Christ's Mercy) written by a Roman Catholic priest and a Protestant priest, respectively, are considered in this study to understand how the two narrators not only engage in the exercise of identity negotiation, but also demonstrate just how they relate or connect to the social or cultural framework through the act of life writing. The purpose is therefore to examine how their life stories underline their encounters with the larger society, their experiences, and the religious, cultural, and linguistic challenges they faced. It is also important to observe the approaches they frequently employed to negotiate and integrate with the larger society, which prompted them to emerge as transcultural personalities. Therefore, the framework of transculturalism and the methodological approach of dialogical narrative analysis pioneered by Arthur W. Frank is employed in the study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-45
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 11-11-2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Religious studies


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