CARGC Book Talk with Melani McAlister

The Kingdom of God Has No Borders: A Global History of American Evangelicals
01 Oct 2018 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm
Annenberg School for Communication, Room 500

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Book Description:

More than forty years ago, conservative Christianity emerged as a major force in American political life. Since then the movement has been analyzed and over-analyzed, declared triumphant and, more than once, given up for dead. But because outside observers have maintained a near-relentless focus on domestic politics, the most transformative development over the last several decades--the explosive growth of Christianity in the global south--has gone unrecognized by the wider public, even as it has transformed evangelical life, both in the US and abroad. 

The Kingdom of God Has No Borders offers a daring new perspective on conservative Christianity by shifting the lens to focus on the world outside US borders. Melani McAlister offers a sweeping narrative of the last fifty years of evangelical history, weaving a fascinating tale that upends much of what we know--or think we know--about American evangelicals. She takes us to the Congo in the 1960s, where Christians were enmeshed in a complicated interplay of missionary zeal, Cold War politics, racial hierarchy, and anti-colonial struggle. She shows us how evangelical efforts to convert non-Christians have placed them in direct conflict with Islam at flash points across the globe. And she examines how Christian leaders have fought to stem the tide of HIV/AIDS in Africa while at the same time supporting harsh repression of LGBTQ communities.

Through these and other stories, McAlister focuses on the many ways in which looking at evangelicals abroad complicates conventional ideas about evangelicalism. We can't truly understand how conservative Christians see themselves and their place in the world unless we look beyond our shores.


Melani McAlister is Professor of American Studies and International Affairs at George Washington University. Her research focuses on the multiple “global visions” produced by and for Americans. In her writing and teaching, she focuses on the ways in which cultural and political history intersect, and on the role of religion and culture in shaping US “interests” in other parts of the world. Her own interests include nationalism and transnationalism; cultural theory; religion and culture; the rhetoric of foreign policy; and cultural and media history (including television, film, print, and digital

Her first book was Epic Encounters: Culture, Media, and US Interests in the Middle East since 1945. The book originally appeared in 2001, and it was received in the context of the September 11 attacks and the ensuing wars in the Middle East. I published a revised edition, with a new chapter, in 2005.

McAlister has published in a broad range of academic journals, including the Journal of American History, American Literary History, American Quarterly, and South Atlantic Quarterly. She has also written for The Washington Post, The New York Times, and The Nation, and has spoken to a broad range of media outlets about US-Middle East relations and US evangelical life and culture, including PBS, CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera, Irish Radio One, and national television stations in Germany, Austria, and Iran. She received her PhD in American Civilization from Brown University and her BA in International Affairs from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. She has been a Fellow at and Princeton’s Davis Center for Historical Studies, a Faculty Fellow at University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School of Communication, and a Fellow at Princeton’s Center for the Study of Religion. She has served on the International Advisory Board of the Center for American Studies and Research at the American University of Beirut, and as member of the editorial boards of American Quarterly, the Journal of American History, and Diplomatic History. She has lectured at dozens of universities, both nationally and internationally. She has also served as a consultant and lecturer for American Studies programs and institutes in Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Israel, and Palestine.

Lunch begins at 11:45. Space is limited, RSVP to

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