Surviving the mega-city: the experiences of minority Christian migrants in New Delhi, India
The project explores the role of religion in shaping the identity constructions of minority Christian migrants in the mega-city of New Delhi (India), the various strategies and aspirations that inform the religious choices that these migrants make in the mega-city and the ways in which this is intertwined with their negotiations of everyday marginality and exclusion as they navigate life in the urban environment, rework and resist dominant relations of power and reconstitute their ‘true’ selves through acts of religious choice and religious creativity.
With an ethnographic focus on Christian migrants from the Christian-majority states of Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram in Northeast India, the project seeks to elucidate how the urban environment of a mega-city in the global South (with the multiple opportunities and challenges that it poses), the condition of being a minority migrant community in such a metropolis (with the multiple precarities that this entails) and the wider political situation (which marginalises and excludes religious minorities) inform the religious choices of these Christian migrants in New Delhi. By exploring these issues in one of the fastest growing mega-cities in South Asia, the project contributes to and complicates current anthropological discussions on the role of religion in transforming the fabric of urban social life, impacting people’s identity constructions and mediating majority-minority relations in urban environments. Further, the project also embodies the potential to spur new conversations (both within and beyond the social sciences) on how the processes and relationships it explores, as well as the power dynamics and contestations which underpin them, inform ongoing social and religious transformations in the world’s mega-cities.
Key words: mega-cities, India, urban Christianity, religious choice, religious identity, minority-majority relations