Kathryn Gin Lum, "Heathen: Religion and Race in American History" (Harvard UP, 2022)

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In Heathen: Religion and Race in American History (Harvard University Press, 2022), Kathryn Gin Lum shows how the idea of the “heathen” has been maintained from the colonial era to the present in religious and secular discourses—discourses, specifically, of race. Race continues to operate as a heathen inheritance in the United States, animating Americans’ sense of being a world apart from an undifferentiated mass of needy, suffering peoples. Heathen thus reveals a key source of American exceptionalism and a prism through which Americans have defined themselves as a progressive and humanitarian nation even as supposed heathens have drawn on the same to counter this national myth.

Piotr H. Kosicki is Associate Professor of History at the University of Maryland, College Park. He is the author of Catholics on the Barricades (Yale, 2018) and editor, among others, of Political Exile in the Global Twentieth Century (with Wolfram Kaiser).

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