Winter Jade Werner, “‘Altogether a Different Thing’: The Emerging Social Sciences and the New Universalisms of Religious Belief in Rudyard Kipling’s Kim” (pp. 293–325)

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the needs of some religious practitioners began to conflict with secular scholars in the developing social science disciplines. According to the secular scholars of these disciplines, religion was subordinate to culture; it functioned to delimit one social group from another. A number of religious practitioners, including Protestant missionaries and Hindu reformers, challenged this scientific delineation of religion as particular and “cultural,” asserting instead what I call “new universalisms” of religious belief. I contextualize Rudyard Kipling’s Kim (1901) within this historical moment. Kim, I argue, thematizes and works through these competing discourses. In particular, the novel suggests the enormous potency of the new discourses of religious belief in advancing forms of universalism that challenged and looked to transcend categories of identity as imposed by social scientific thinking. I conclude with an examination of Kim’s epigraphs, showing that their relationship to the main narrative formally enacts the agonistic relationship between the two modern universalisms of religious belief and social scientific thinking.

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