Scott, J. Barton

Assistant ProfessorHistorical Studies - History of Religions

Contact Information

MN 4244
Mailing Address: 
3359 Mississauga Road, Maanjiwe nendamowinan, 4th floor
Postal Code: 
L5L 1C6
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Please refer to syllabus and/or contact via email.

J. Barton Scott is a theorist of religion who works on the global intellectual and cultural history of the long nineteenth-century, with a focus on South Asia and its connections to the British empire. He has been particularly interested in modern Hindu thought, religious polemics, and anticolonialism. He is the author of Spiritual Despots: Modern Hinduism and the Genealogies of Self-Rule (Chicago) and the co-editor of Imagining the Public in Modern South Asia (Routledge), and he teaches courses on social and cultural theory, religion in political thought, and media and material religion.  

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. 




Book Chapters

  • A Commonwealth of Affection: Modern Hinduism and the Cultural History of the Study of Religion." In Constructing Nineteenth Century Religion, eds. (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 2019).
  • “The Supernatural and Colonialism.” In Super Religion, ed. Jeffrey J. Kripal, New York: Palgrave, 2016.


  • Review of Richard S. Weiss, The Emergence of Modern Hinduism: Religion on the Margins of Colonialism (California, 2019). Journal of Asian Studies 79, no. 2 (May 2020): 529-31
  • Review of Reason (Vivek(dir. Anand Patwardhan, 2018), “Toronto International Film Festival Reviews,” Journal of Religion & Film 22, no. 2 (October 2018).
  • Review of Ad Vitam (dir. Thomas Calley, 2018), “Toronto International Film Festival Reviews,” Journal of Religion & Film 22, no. 2 (October 2018).
  • Review of Timothy Dobe, Hindu Christian Faqir: Modern Monks, Global Christianity, and Indian Sainthood (Oxford, 2015). History of Religions 57, no. 2 (November 2017), pp. 225-227.
  • Review of Les Affamés (dir. Robin Aubert, 2017), “Toronto International Film Festival Reviews,” Journal of Religion & Film 21, no. 2 (October 2017). 


Modern South Asia; Postcolonial Theory; Secularism; Religion and Law; Media and Popular Culture; Affect Theory; History of Study of Religion
Ph.D. Duke University
B.A. Swarthmore College