1st Edition

Hinduism in America An Introduction

By Michael J. Altman Copyright 2022
    188 Pages
    by Routledge

    188 Pages
    by Routledge

    Hinduism in America: An Introduction 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. Americans have been interested in the religions of India since the colonial period, and by the late nineteenth century the first Hindu teachers arrived in the United States. Throughout the twentieth century, interest in Hinduism and yoga grew, even as anti-Asian and anti-immigrant politics and policies in America intensified. When the Cold War led to changes in U.S. immigration policy in 1965, new immigrant communities arrived in the United States and built new Hindu institutions.

    Hinduism in America is an accessible introduction to these developments of Hinduism in the United States. Each chapter uses a key theoretical term in the study of religion to explore a variety of historical topics including:

    • American missionary encounters with India;
    • representations of Hindu religions in American literature;
    • world religions and Hinduism;
    • Vedanta;
    • yoga;
    • Hinduism in the American counterculture of the 1960s; and
    • immigrant Hindu communities in the United States. 

    Hinduism in America provides an overview of the multifaceted history of Hinduism in America. Ideal for students and scholars approaching the topic for the first time, the book includes sections in each chapter that provide useful theoretical terms for understanding that history.

    Introduction: The Pronunciation of Om  1. The Other: "Heathens" and "Hindoos" in Early America  2. Orientalism: East and West in Nineteenth-Century America  3. World Religions: The Construction of "Hinduism" in America  4. Metaphysical Religion: Vedanta and Yoga  5. Spirituality: The Hippies and the Seekers Find India  6. Diaspora: The Hindu Diaspora in the United States


    Michael J. Altman is Associate Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Alabama, U.S.A.