The Bible and Violence Project is humming along, and chapters have started to trickle in as the first deadline (in early October) approaches. It has been cheering to hear of our contributors forming support and writing groups, sharing ideas and sources.
We editors have always felt passionate about this project, and we recognized from the outset that this is work that matters and will have impact. Sometimes, this feeling and knowledge is brought home to us with poignancy and intensity.
Today we want to highlight the dreadful events that continue to unfold in Manipur, India. Since May this year the long-standing conflict in Manipur between the mostly Hindu Meitei and the mostly Christian Kuki scheduled tribes peoples has escalated markedly and erupted in multiple acts of brutality and in human rights violations that have claimed (mostly Kuki) lives and displaced tens of thousands of people, among other harms. (For more background, see here.)
The situation in Manipur is one where religion and rape culture clash with tragic and fatal force. And yet, it receives little in the way of outrage or attention in either the international media or wider international community.
One of our Bible and Violence contributors is Chingboi Guite Phaipi; she is writing the chapter “The Bible and Violence with Perspectives of Tribal Communities of India.” Understandably, turning to this subject matter is overwhelmingly painful at present, when members of Chingboi’s community are uprooted, frightened, distressed, and grieving.
Rape culture, as many articles on our blog make clear, covers a wide spectrum of harmful acts, from verbal microaggressions and online abuse, to physical and fatal violence. One distressing and strategically vicious expression of rape culture in Manipur is the stripping and parading of Kuki women, which has been filmed and disseminated to spread fear and intimidation. There are also very many reports of rapes of women, including gang rapes. (There is an article on sexual violence in Manipur, here.)
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been criticized for being slow to act and stands accused of fanning Hindu nationalist ideologies that benefit and please the electoral base of the party he leads, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). These same ideologies, it is argued, exacerbate abuse, and take a toll on several religious minorities in India, including the Kuki. The Kuki are demanding justice and pushing for a separate administration, to defend and protect their lives and lands from incursion and violence (see here).
The Bible and Violence Project brings together many voices from all over the world, to reflect the dispersion of the Bible’s influence. It examines a myriad of ways in which the Bible depicts, justifies, suppresses, promotes, or resists multiple forms of violence. For some of our contributors this is primarily an exercise in research and scholarship; for others, it represents something visceral, even matters of life and death. Biblical interpretation is political, sometimes intensely so.
We are excited to see how the project will come together. Along the way, we are often affected by the circumstances and experiences of our contributors. We have already learned a great deal and look forward to seeing the project grow and find a diverse and far-flung readership. Please look out for future posts and for the publication of multiple volumes, including, we hope, in online and – eventually – in open access formats.
We encourage everyone to follow and stay informed about events in Manipur. Alongside some articles such as the ones linked above, you can find out more from ITLF (Indigenous Tribal Leaders Forum), or (especially if you are based in the USA or Canada), NAMTA (North American Manipur Tribal Association). The latter was formed this year and raises consciousness, support, and funds for the tribal people of Manipur.