Heathen, Hindoo, Hindu

This small book forum engages with Michael Altman’s Heathen, Hindoo, Hindu: American Representations of India, 1721-1893 (Oxford University Press, 2017). Scholars from varying disciplines discuss the ways the book provides insight into early-American views of Hinduism. Moreso, they expand the discussion to how religion has been and is viewed in American culture.

Though the book is a history, contributors to this forum show how what Altman describes of understanding of Hinduism and India in the nineteenth century influences discussions of religion today. He helps to rewrite a history of understanding and religious differences in the United States

In the words of forum participant Emily Conroy-Krutz, Heathen, Hindoo, Hindu is “a concise and thoughtful examination of American thinking about religion and India in the nineteenth century. Here, Altman sets out to understand how the categories of ‘heathen,’ ‘Hindoo,’ and ‘Hindu’ were constructed by American readers and thinkers, and he finds that there were indeed important and revealing differences in ‘Hindoos’ and ‘Hindus.’ Those differences, as Altman reveals, tell us a lot about religion in the United States.”

You can read Michael Altman’s introduction to the book and the forum here.