Religion in

Russell T. McCutcheon
Professor and Department Chair

Sociology of Religion, Theories of Myth & Ritual, Politics of Classification, History of the Cateory "Religion" and the History of the Study of Religion

office number:
(205) 348-8512
office: Manly Hall 211


In 2008 and 2009, Prof. McCutcheon took REL majors to Greece.

Learn more.

Books by Prof. McCutcheon (click the covers...)

See the contents, contributors and Preface (PDF)

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The essays in this co-edited volume were originally presented in Mexico City in 1995, at the World Congress of the International Association for the History of Religions (IAHR)


Russell T. McCutcheon, who came to the University of Alabama's Department of Religious Studies as its Department Chair in the summer of 2001 (and who stepped down at the end of the 2008-9 academic year), was trained at Queen's University (Kingston, Ontario) and the University of Toronto, where he received his Ph.D. in the academic study of religion in 1995. He came to the U.S. from Canada in 1993, to teach full time as an Instructor at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (1993-96); from 1996 to 2001 he was an Assistant and then Associate Professor at Southwest Missouri State University (Springfield; now known as Missouri State University). Although a Canadian citizen, in early 2001 he obtained Permanent Residency status in the U.S.

In August of 2013 Prof. McCutcheon returned to the role of Department Chair.

His areas of interest include the history of scholarship on myths and rituals, the history of the publicly-funded academic study of religion as practiced in the U.S., secularism, as well as the relations between the classification "religion" itself and the rise of the nation-state.

From 1990-2001, and then again for 2012, McCutcheon served as one of the editors of the quarterly periodical, published by Brill of the Netherlands, Method & Theory in the Study of Religion; from 1997-2001 he also edited the Bulletin of the Council of Societies for the Study of Religion. In the Fall of 2007 he stepped down after having served three years as the Executive Secretary, Treasurer, and webmaster for the North American Association for the Study of Religion (NAASR)--the U.S. affiliate of the International Association for the History of Religions (IAHR). McCutcheon was also the longtime webmaster for his Department's website (until August 2009).

In November of 2005, McCutcheon was elected to a three year term as the President of the Council of Societies for the Study of Religion (CSSR), headquartered at Rice University. The Council ceased existence at the end of 2009.

Apart from his earlier works on theory of religion, his current interest focuses more on the history and uses of the category religion itself. He has also published on teaching and written or edited a variety of classroom and references resources.

He is the founder and series editor for Equinox Publishing's anthology series, "Critical Categories in the Study of Religion." His most recent editing project is a new monograph series, also with Equinox Press, UK, entitled "Religion in Culture: Studies in Social Contest and Construction."

A recent copy of his cv
can be found here (PDF).

Classes Taught

McCutcheon regularly teaches such courses as REL 100, REL 105, REL 213, REL 237, REL 341, REL 360, REL 370, REL 373, REL 419, REL 480, REL 482, REL 490, and UH 120. And, along with Vaia Touna, he taught a revised version of REL 480.

If you are interested in reading samples of McCutcheon's recent work...

"Three Dots and a Dash"--web essay posted at The Immanent Frame, commenting on Frequencies: A Genealogy of Spirituality.

"Africa on Our Minds," a chapter from The African Diaspora and the Study of Religion (2007).

An essay on secularism published in the Fall of 2007 in Method & Theory in the Study of Religion.

A review essay on handbooks in religious studies published in the Fall of 2007 in Journal of the American Academy of Religion.

"The Problem of Religion and the Lust for Dogmatic Rule" (PDF)--lecture, based on chapter one of Religion and the Domestication of Dissent, presented at the University of Regina, the University of Edmonton, the University of Copenhagen, Aarhus University, Nebraska Wesleyan University, and Rice University.

Chapter 12 from The Discipline of Religion (Routledge, 2003), "'Religion' and the Governable Self" (PDF)

A brief handout (PDF) on the politics of discourses on religious pluralism

A lecture (PDF) delivered at Wilfrid Laurier University and the University of Chicago (both in the Spring of 2004), and which is a chapter of Religion and the Domestication of Dissent.

A lecture (PDF) delivered at Syracuse University (February 2005), the University of Regina and the University of Alberta, Canada (Fall of 2004) and at Arizona State University (Spring of 2004), and which is also a chapter of Religion and the Domestication of Dissent.

Comments delivered at the University of Alabama, January 18, 2003: "Introductory Remarks on the Academic Study of Islam" (PDF)

An excerpt from Introduction to an edited anthology (see the book cover, below left): The Insider / Outsider Problem in the Study of Religion

An earlier version of a chapter in The Discipline of Religion (Routledge, UK, 2003) appears in the on-line Journal of Mundane Behavior; see: "Like Small Bumps on the Neck...": The Problem of Evil as Something Ordinary

An article on the history of work carried out by members of the International Association for the History of Religions (IAHR): "'The Common Ground On Which Students of Religion Meet": Methodology and Theory Within the IAHR"

An article co-written with Christina Lapel (Immigration Tax Specialist, Southwest Missouri State University), "Canadian Scholars Working in the US: An Unofficial Primer on the INS"

An essay that represents some of his recent work on the politics of classification: "The Category 'Religion' and the Politics of Tolerance" (PDF), published in the multi-authored book, Defining Religion: Investigating the Boundaries Between the Sacred and Secular

A 2004 essay (PDF) in the Journal of the American Academy of Religion on controversies over recent research on the category "religion"

A 2004 essay (PDF) on recent trends in the study of religion in the US, from the edited book, New Approaches to the Study of Religion (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter)