ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Every Family Its Own Historian?

The Case of Syrian Christian Family Histories

Upper-caste Syrian Christian family histories variously comprise the reconstructions of popular beliefs; family and church genealogies claiming Brahminic and apostolic origins; biographies of prominent family members; discussions on the crisis of national and global migration; purity of race and blood; descriptions of relationships with other social groups; road maps and visions for the future; endogamous family directories; popular bedtime stories, among others. These family historians select the most desirable facts, figures, myths, and legends to present a strange blend of facts and fancies. This paper explores how the Syrian Christians mobilise, conceive, and position their histories within the social matrix of Kerala and their ideological uses for identity politics.

The author is grateful to the anonymous referee for their detailed comments.

[T]he history, which he imaginatively recreates as an artificial extension of his personal experience, will inevitably be an engaging blend of fact and fancy, a mythical adaptation of that which actually happened. In part, it will be true, in part false; as a whole, perhaps, neither true nor false, but only the most convenient form of error.

— Becker (1932: 229–30)

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Updated On : 20th Sep, 2022
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