Jonathan Koshy Varghese is a doctoral researcher at the CESAH of EHESS, Paris. His work involves a critical examination of the transoceanic imaginaries that connected the histories of the Ottoman empire, British empire and the Syrian Christians/Suriyani of Travancore from mid 19th century to mid 20th century. He works with three types of archives to conduct this study, each corresponding to different facets of this transoceanic historical network. The project marks a significant departure from any prior study of the community, which have mostly been oriented towards the themes of caste and gender, conventionally sourced from community accounts, fieldwork and religious archives. While not ignoring these resources his project marks a deliberate shift towards “secular” sources. By thus largely relying on the aforementioned “secular” archives the purpose of this research is twofold. Firstly, to generate a secular narrative history of the Suriyani which may be read alongside and perhaps in opposition to the local histories generated by the rival factions of the community. Secondly, and more significantly, it is an attempt to map the global network of associations – ecclesiastical, emotional and legal – that the Suriyani/Syrian Christians of the Malabar region exhibited prior to the consolidation of the Indian nation state, in the very decades that witnessed the subcontinent’s own efforts towards decolonisation. His publications include a monograph, Occasional Publication 89 titled In Search of Ephrem the Syrian: Suriani and the Materiality of Faith, published by the India International Centre.
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