Mike Altman

Michael J. Altman

Professor |
Director and PI of American Examples

Office Hours

Monday, 12:30pm-1:30pm; Tuesday, 9:00am-10:00am, and by appointment.


Prof. Altman's Website

American Examples


Asian Studies Program


  • PhD, American Religious Cultures, Emory University


For Prof. Altman, religion is one of the ways people understand who is “us” and who is “them.” This basic function of religion guides his research and teaching about a range of topics from Hinduism in the United States to religion in film to American evangelicalism. Most recently, his research has turned to theorizing about the intersection of religious studies and professional wrestling and a book project, Wrestling with Religion: Working Theories of Culture. It’s a giant, fun, wild, experiment.

In 2022, Prof. Altman published Hinduism in America: an introduction with Routledge. The book is a concise introduction to the long history of religion in the encounter between America and India. It is not a book that will tell you what Hinduism is; rather, it is an introduction to the variety of ways in which Hinduism has been represented, constructed, and practiced in the United States. Each chapter introduces a key term in the study of religion in American culture and uses that term to tell the story of particular historical period.

Prof. Altman’s first book, Heathen, Hindoo, Hindu: American Representations of India, 1721-1893 (Oxford University Press, 2017) examined a variety of ways Americans used representations of religion in India to argue over what counted as American at home.

He has also written articles and book chapters on Asian religions in America, religion in film, podcasting in religious studies, and American evangelicalism.

Along with his teaching and research, Prof. Altman is the PI, organizer, and an active mentor for the American Examples grant from the Luce Foundation (which bring a group of early career scholars to UA three times each year, to work on their research, teaching, and public humanities skills), the editor of the American Examples book series with the University of Alabama Press, one of the co-developers of the Uncivil Religion project (launched in January 2022, in partnership with the Smithsonian Museum of American History, to document the role of religion in the January 2021 insurrection at the US Capitol), and also the founder and continuing supervisor for REL’s Study Religion podcast.

Along with his research, Dr. Altman teaches a range of classes in the department from REL 130: Religion, Politics, and Law to REL 450: Religion and Power in Colonial India and a variety of 500-level graduate courses (including our Foundations course on public humanities along with the history of the field). He hopes to one day teach an entire REL course on pro wrestling.

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Selected Publications

Hinduism in America: An Introduction (London: Routledge), 2022.

Heathen, Hindoo, Hindu: Representations of India in America, 1721-1893, (New York: Oxford University Press), 2017.

American Examples: New Conversations about Religion, Volume 1, ed. (Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama Press) 2021.American Examples

American Examples: New Conversations about Religion, Volume 2, ed. with Samah Choudhury and Prea Persaud (University of Alabama Press), 2022.American Examples