I write about the history of the category “religion” in modernity. Yea, that’s broad. More specifically, my research is focused on the history of religion in America. I recently published Heathen, Hindoo, Hindu: American Representations of India, 1721-1893, a book about how Americans imagined and represented “religion” in India. I argue that American arguments about India “over there” were really ways to argue about religion at home. I’ve also written articles and book chapters about Asian religions in America, theory in religious studies, and podcasts.
I am an assistant professor in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Alabama. I teach courses on religion in America, colonialism, and digital humanities. You can find out more about that on my faculty page.
I’m currently working on two research projects. First, I’m writing a cultural history of Mohandas Gandhi in America. Rather than a typical biography, this book analyzes the way Gandhi has been represented in American culture. There have been multiple Gandhis in the American imagination deployed for a variety of reasons. Second, I’m working on a very meta-level genealogy of the connections between American Religious history, Christianity, liberal political philosophy, and the English Civil War. I’m getting really into the English Civil War.
I used to have a blog at michaeljaltman.net too.