This book explores the material religion of contemporary Shimla, a vibrant postcolonial city, famed for its colonial heritage, set against the backdrop of the North-Western Himalayas. Jonathan Miles-Watson demonstrates that this landscape is able to peacefully reconcile the apparent tensions of faith, heritage and identity in a way that unseats traditional theories of religion, politics and heritage. It presents a mystery that is written in space through time; the key to unlocking this mystery lies in clear view, at the city's heart, in the contemporary material religion that surrounds nominally Christian sacred sites. Although the material religion centres on landscapes that are identifiable as Christian, the book demonstrates that Hindus, atheists and Sikhs all have a role to play in the mutually constitutive relations that lie at the centre of these knots of sacred entanglement. This book builds upon over a decade of research to present an ethnographic account of devotional practices that speaks to contemporary developments in both the anthropology of Christianity and material religion. Through this exploration the book answers the mystery of Shimla's postcolonial harmony, while complicating established theories in the anthropology of religion, postcolonial studies, mythography, heritage studies and material culture.
Miles-Watson, J. (2020). Christianity and Belonging in Shimla, North India: Sacred Entanglements of a Himalayan Landscape. Bloomsbury Academic