J. Barton Scott

J. Barton Scott

Assistant Professor, Historical Studies and the Study of Religion
Centre for South Asian Studies at the Asian Institute


170 St. George St., Room 205


J. Barton Scott works on questions of secularism, empire, and the history of the study of religion in colonial South Asia and Victorian Britain. He teaches courses on social and cultural theory, media and material religion, and religion in political thought. He is the author of Spiritual Despots: Modern Hinduism and the Genealogies of Self-Rule (University of Chicago, 2016) and the co-editor of Imagining the Public in Modern South Asia(Routledge, 2016). Recent publications include “Translated Liberties: Karsandas Mulji’s Travels in Englandand the Anthropology of the Victorian Self,” in Modern Intellectual History (2017) and “Only Connect: Three Reflections on the Sociality of Secularism,” in the Cambridge Journal of Postcolonial Literary Inquiry (2019).

Scott’s current book project, Slandering the Sacred: Law and Religious Affect in Colonial India, is a study of the sections of the Indian Penal Code that criminalize wounding “religious feelings.” The book situates these laws within the history of religious polemics in nineteenth and early twentieth century India, particularly those of the Arya Samaj, as well as within the global history of liberal ideas about free speech, secular governance, and print publicity. As a whole, the book asks how affect or emotion became part of state efforts to define and govern religion, both within India and beyond.

Scott is Assistant Professor of Historical Studies and the Study of Religion and Associate Editor, South Asia: The Journal of South Asian Studies.

Latest Article:

“Only Connect: Three Reflections on the Sociality of Secularism (Cambridge Journal of Postcolonial Literary Inquiry)

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