Contesting ‘Gifts from Jesus’

Conversion, Charity, and the Distribution of Used Clothing in Guyana

In: Social Sciences and Missions
Sinah Theres Kloß University of Cologne

Search for other papers by Sinah Theres Kloß in
Current site
Google Scholar
View More View Less
Download Citation Get Permissions

Access options

Get access to the full article by using one of the access options below.

Institutional Login

Log in with Open Athens, Shibboleth, or your institutional credentials

Login via Institution


Buy instant access (PDF download and unlimited online access):


Clothes are a means to demonstrate wealth, status, and socio-religious hegemony. Practices of consuming and exchanging clothing enhance or lower one’s status by displaying and creating taste and capital. In Guyana, many Hindus relate charitable clothing distributions exclusively to Christian missions. They commonly state that the distribution of used clothing is a means to convert Hindus to Christianity. While indeed in the past only Christians were able to conduct such distributions due to their links to colonial powers, today and as a result of transnational migration to North America Guyanese Hindus also organize distributions of clothing. For this purpose, migrants collect used clothes and ship them to Guyana. This article proposes that as Hindus remain a minority in Guyana, the practice of and discourse about charitable distributions are a means to counter and resist the perceived ‘threat’ of conversion. It demonstrates how charitable distributions thereby influence the local socio-religious hierarchy and challenge established power structures.

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 175 31 0
Full Text Views 242 6 0
PDF Views & Downloads 70 7 0