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Full Access The Baptism of Death: Rereading the Life and Death of Lakshmi Kaundinya

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The Baptism of Death: Rereading the Life and Death of Lakshmi Kaundinya

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This article re-reads the life and death of a young Brahmin woman, Lakshmi Kaundinya, as reported in a missionary journal in the middle of the nineteenth century. Using the analytical tools of postcolonial theory, it raises urgent questions about our unstable present by giving voice to this woman, who is silenced in a narrative that, though sympathetic, attempts to frame her as an arrogant Brahmin woman who did not want to give up the ways of her culture and conform to the expectations of the mission. It provides a sub-text to the more ‘successful’ story of the conversion of her husband, Anandarao Kaundinya, who is subsequently absorbed into the team of missionaries from the Basel Mission, by focusing on the challenges posed by gender and culture in narratives of nineteenth century conversions to Christianity.


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Affiliations: 1: Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, Email:


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