The Riverfront in Banaras

College Year in India and Nepal Archive Project

Professor Joe Elder

Sixty Years of Asking Questions

Joe and his bride Joann sailed to India in 1951 to teach English in high schools in Tamilnadu. Part of their reimbursement after they returned from India was to receive a free year of graduate study in Oberlin College, Ohio. Joe decided his Master’s thesis would ask the question: “What happens to the caste system among Indian Christians — given the Christians’ formal denunciation of the caste system and the Christians’ lack of belief in reincarnation (the moral justification of the caste system)?” Efforts to answer that question led Joe to sixty years asking further questions about India. In this talk, Joe will describe some of the subsequent questions he has asked — and some of the surprises along the way.