An ethnographic study of violence experienced by Dalit Christian women in Kerala State, India and the implications of this for feminist practical theology
The purpose of this thesis is to investigate how experiences of violence, which have been secret in the past, can be articulated that they may become resources for theological reflection and Christian action. The research technique employed is ethnography, which is used to uncover the violence experienced in the lives of Dalit Christian women in Kerala State of India. Part one of this thesis concerns methodology. Chapter two examines how other women theologians working amongst poor and marginalised women from non-western cultures have sought to make women’s experience visible and have emphasised its theological significance. This chapter explores what I can gain from the work of these women that will help me to develop my own research on Dalit Christian women. Chapter three describes the research setting by explaining the context for this research, the researched community of Dalits and the location, where Dalit women gathered together. This chapter demonstrates my relations, as an ethnographer, to Dalit Christian women who have converted to Christianity from the Pulaya caste. Finally, this chapter justifies the research strategies employed in this research. Part two of this thesis contains my field research. Chapter four is about meta-ethnography generated at a one-day seminar and two Bible studies. In chapter five Dalit Christian women, who are the survivors of various kinds of violence, tell their life stories in their own words. In this way Dalit women started to uncover the secret and hidden experience they had in the past. Part three of this thesis is the analysis of data and conclusion. Chapter six analyses the significant themes, which have emerged from my research into the life experiences of Dalit women. It demonstrates that Dalit women’s experience and the cultural traditions of Dalit community are important resources for the development of a Dalit Feminist Practical Theology. Finally, in the light of my research, I make concrete strategies for action that could bring hope and transformation in the lives of Dalit women who are experiencing violence.