John Thomas, Evangelising the Nation: Religion and the
Formation of Naga Political Identity. New Delhi:
Reviewed by Sangay Tamang
Within the domain of controversial debate concerning missionary and Naga Nationalism in India, this book presents a new perspective to look historically the relationship between missionary, colonialism and ethnic identity formation among the Nagas of North East India. Tracking history dated back to 17th century Europe, the author attempted to bring a picture of missionary emergence and the role it played in transforming the culture and tradition of Native American.Through extensive archival research and using the missionary metaphor of “city set on the hill”,Thomas tried to locate the birth of American Baptist missionary in the Hills of Nagatoo and the way it mediate the notion of “’civilisation” and “modernity” in North East India. The discussion on conversion towards Christianity among the Nagas has been well presented in this book by articulating the contradiction, confrontation and negotiation of politics between missionary, colonial administration and local institutions. The question likes “what do we want of this man’s new religion?” by an Ao elder (p. 50) present a problematic discourse of missionary’s inconsistency, conflict and its suspicious character within the heterogeneous configuration of Naga society.