Melani McAlister specializes in 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).
Professor McAlister has recently published The Kingdom of God Has No Borders: A Global History of American Evangelicals with Oxford University Press. She is also the author of Epic Encounters: Culture, Media, and U.S. Interests in the Middle East since 1945 (rev. ed. 2005, orig. 2001), and the co-editor, with R. Marie Griffith, of Religion and Politics in the Contemporary United States (2008). She is currently co-editing volume 4 of the Cambridge History of America and the World (forthcoming) with David Engerman and Max Friedman. In 2017, McAlister received an NEH grant to begin work on her next project, an affective and cultural history of humanitarianism in the Cold War.
McAlister has published in a broad range of academic journals, including the Journal of American History, Diplomatic History, American Literary History, American Quarterly, and South Atlantic Quarterly. She has also written for The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Atlantic, 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.
Professor McAlister received her PhD in American Studies from Brown University and her BA in International Affairs from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. In addition to the NEH Fellowship, she has been a Fellow at 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 is on the Board of Directors of the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) and is deeply involved with the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations, currently serving on the Ways and Means Committee and chairing the Development Committee. She is a member of the editorial boards of Modern American History, Diplomatic History, and American Quarterly. She has also served on the International Advisory Board of the Center for American Studies and Research at the American University of Beirut, as a member of the Committee on Academic Freedom of the Middle East Studies Association, and on the boards of the Journal of American History, Diplomatic History, and American Literature. 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.