New Faculty Member to Join REL

altmanWe’re very pleased to announce that Dr. Michael Altman, who graduated last year from Emory University and who has worked with us for the past year as an Instructor, will be joining the department in the Fall of 2014 as a newly hired tenure-track Assistant Professor.

Although also trained in the history of religion in the U.S., Mike’s work involves the 18th and 19th century reaction in the U.S. to what was then newly discovered information on “the Other” — e.g., tracing the ways in which ideas of identity, social order, and place were negotiated once information on “the Hindoos” reached North American intellectuals.

Although he will certainly augment our current strengths in Asia and America, Prof. Altman will primarily be offering courses that fulfill the Religion in Conflict aspect of our curriculum, focusing on such topics as colonialism and cultural contact.

Please congratulate Dr. Altman when you see him and consider enrolling in his class this Fall

REL 370.002 “From Columbus to 9/11: Empire and the Construction of Religion”

The academic study of religion emerged during the age of European empire, instituted itself in the United States during the Vietnam era, and took on a new role in the wake of 9/11. This course will explore the role of colonial contact and the encounter between Europe and its others in the construction of religion as a category in the West. As a famous scholar once put it, “religion” is not a native category. So, whence religion? We will attempt an answer through a study of colonialism in America, Africa, and Asia.

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About Russell McCutcheon

Russell McCutcheon is the Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Alabama. Interested generally in issue of theory in the study of religion, and specifically in the social and political utility of the very term "religion" itself, he has worked at three different public universities in the US. He teaches a variety of courses in the Department, on such topics as the rhetoric of religious experience or authenticity, and continues his research on such topics as religion and modernity. He also has a dog, Izzy.

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