Prospective Students Faculty&Staff Students&Alumni Events
Hellenic Center
Educational Programs
CEU-ELTE Medieval Library
Hungarian Medievalists
Cultural Heritage-Projects
  November 6, 2008 17.30 p.m.

The History of South Indian Christianity on the Basis of Newly Found Documents - Methodological Challenges and Possible Answers

Faculty Tower, Room #409


István Perczel

Medieval Studies Department, CEU, Budapest

For eight years Prof. Perczel and his team have been collecting, photographing, and cataloguing thousands of hitherto unknown local documents preserved in Kerala State in Southwest India written in Classical Syriac, Malayalam, Tamil, Latin, Portuguese, and English, mostly relevant to the history of an indigenous Indian Christian community, commonly called St Thomas Christians. These documents tell us a new story about the history of this community before and after the arrival of European colonists. The documents permit us to see how the arrival of subsequent waves of European colonists, all motivated by commercial interests and ideological backgrounds, acted on the existing equilibrium of the multicultural South Indian setting. Moreover, given the traditional -- commercial and ecclesiastical -- links of the South Indian Christian communities to the Middle East, one can also see what kind of response the new European presence triggered on the part of the Indian Christians’ traditional Middle Eastern partners. This side of the story has remained for the greater part unknown until now, as the only evidence used, by both Western and Indian historians, was that kept in Western archives. The main novelty of the present approach consists in shifting the evidence to India and considering was created and kept there. The lecture does not aim to give a continuous story of Christian history in India, but rather to present the methodological challenges the team’s research has to meet and suggest tentative answers.

István Perczel is Professor at the Deparment of Medieval Studies at CEU and Research Associate at the Oriental Institute at the University of Tübingen. He has conducted research into Late Antique and Byzantine intellectual history, Eastern Christianity and Syriac manuscripts. In the year 2000 he initiated a project for the preservation of the manuscripts of the Syrian Christians of India. This project is still on-going.

  <<< Public lectures  
H-1051 Budapest, Nádor u. 9. - Tel.: (36-1)327-3024, Fax:(36-1)327-3055, E-mail: