French and Diasporic Tamil Catholic Mobilities in Colonial Malaya
- Sojourn: Journal of Social Issues in Southeast Asia
- ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute
- Volume 35, Number 2, July 2020
- pp. 217-242
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- Additional Information
This paper explores religious mobilities within the Roman Catholic context by focusing on transformations to Tamil Catholic ontology in nineteenth-century colonial Malaya. It discusses samples from a French missionary memoir and correspondence between Tamil Catholics and French missionaries. It is concerned in particular with aspects of Tamil diasporic mobilities as they intersect with individual, communal and institutional structures and imaginaries. It also highlights the dialectics of changes in the hierarchical trajectories between missionary and convert as the French Catholic hierarchy encountered flows from various tributaries of Tamil Catholic individual imagination. The paper concludes that these and other everyday aspirations of the nineteenth-century Tamil Catholic community traced in the memoirs and letters reveal various networks of religious mobilities that have affected modern-day Malaysian Tamil Catholic identity. They also provide crucial insight into the Asian regional networks of mobility that existed alongside the more established European missionary networks.