Religion in

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

Madras Army.

Dr. Michael Altman

Office: 205 Manly Hall
Office Phone: (205) 348-7223
Course: TR 11:00-12:15
Location: MA 207

About Online Readings

Some of the course's online readings are placed in a "secure" folder; you can only access these PDF files (Portable Document Format, that can be opened with the free Adobe Reader) by clicking each link and then entering the username/password given to you in class.

If you have difficulty accessing these readings, contact the instructor by email.




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.


Fall 2014 (PDF)

Books (required)

Chidester, Davide
Empire of Religion: Imperialism & Comparative Religion
University of Chicago Press, 2014
ISBN: 022611743X

McGrane, Bernard
Beyond Anthropology: Society and the Other
Columbia University Press, 1989
ISBN: 0231066856

van der Veer, Peter
Imperial Encounters: Religion and Modernity in India and Britain

Princeton University Press, 2001
ISBN: 069107478X


To be announced