Michael J. Altman

Religious Studies | Theory | History

Heathen, Hindoo, Hindu: American Representations of India, 1721-1893
Heathen, Hindoo, Hindu: American Representations of India, 1721-1893

About Me

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.

My Courses

REL 130: Religion, Politics, and Law
Why is 'religion' a special legal category? This introductory level course examines the constructio...
REL 502: Public Humanities & Religious Studies Foundations
What is digital public religious studies? This course is required of all first-year students in the...

News & Events

Bulletin Book Review of Heathen, Hindoo, Hindu
September 19, 2017
Over at the Bulletin for the Study of Religion, Andrew Kunze has an engaging review of Heathen, Hindoo, Hindu. Here's a bit of it: Michael Altman’s Heathen, Hi
New Books in Religion Interview About ‘Heathen, Hindoo, Hindu’
September 12, 2017
I had the pleasure of talking with Kristian Petersen of New Books in Religion about Heathen, Hindoo, Hindu. Listen to the interview on the NBR website or find N
At The OUP Blog: The Origins of Juggernaut
August 2, 2017
Over at the OUP Blog I have a new post, drawing on the research in Heathen, Hindoo, Hindu, about the origins of the word "juggernaut" in colonial India. Here's
Chapter in New Volume ‘The Business Turn in American Religious History’
August 1, 2017
I'm excited to have a chapter in a great new book from Oxford University Press, The Business Turn in American Religious History. The book is edited by Amanda Po

Contact ME

  • Box 870264 The University of Alabama Tuscaloosa, AL 35487
  • 205-348-7223
  • michael.altman@ua.edu
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