Richard J. Callahan, Jr.

Richard J. Callahan, Jr. Associate Professor and Chair
Education: Ph.D., University of California, Santa Barbara
Interest: Religion in America
Phone: 573-882-0060



My primary interest is religion in America. These are especially interesting times for the study of religion in the United States as the discipline searches for new ways to tell the story of the nation's complex history of religious diversity and cultural interaction. Trained in folk studies, history of religion, sociology of religion, and American religious history, I approach religion through its lived expressions and practices. I am particularly interested in the ways that people creatively and constantly negotiate identity, significance, and power through religious idioms in the dense contexts of their everyday lives. Similarly, I am interested in the new and often surprising forms of religious expression that emerge in unexpected times and places as individuals and communities negotiate the ordinary and extraordinary experiences that make up all of our lives.

My research follows these interests into the world of work and labor, exploring how particular occupational cultures, material settings, and relations of exchange inform and are informed by religious idioms. My first book about this subject was a study of coal miners in eastern Kentucky that looked at a variety of ways that miners and their families responded religiously to the introduction of industrial coal mining into their lives. I am currently engaged in a long-term research project on the religious worlds of seafaring, focusing initially on New England's whaling industry. This project takes me into realms of globalization, oceanic studies, and intercultural exchanges between Americans, Pacific Islanders, and others. It explores not only the work of whaling, but the impact of global networks and exchanges on formations of modern perspectives on religion as well.


  • 2230 Religion and Popular Culture
  • 3210 History of Religion in Post-Civil War America
  • 4130 Haunting and Healing: The Supernatural in American Culture
  • 4210/7810 African-American Religions
  • 8005 Ethnographic History
  • 8440 Religion, Globalization, and Local Cultures

Recent Publications


Work and Faith in the Kentucky Coal Fields: Subject to Dust (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2009).

Published reviews:
Doug Cantrell, Kentucky Historical Society Register 106 (2008): 233-235.
James Hudnut-Beumler, Journal of American History 96 (2009): 863.
Bill J. Leonard, American Historical Review 114 (2009): 1490-1491.
Kathryn Lofton, Books & Culture (May 2009):
John Hayes, H-Pentecostalism (August 2009):
Charles H. Lippy, Choice (June 2009).
Ken Fones-Wolf, Journal of Southern History 76 (2010): 774-776.
Robert S. Weiss, Journal of Interdisciplinary History 41 (2010): 164-166.
Paul Harvey, Journal of Ecclesiastical History 61 (2010): 430-431.
Heath Carter, Journal of Southern History 13 (2011):
Glenna H. Graves, Appalachian Journal 39 (Fall 2011/Winter 2012): 165-166.
Daniel Woods, Pneuma: Journal for Pentecostal Studies 33 (2011): 429-430.

New Territories, New Perspectives: The Religious Impact of the Louisiana Purchase, Richard J. Callahan, Jr., ed. (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2008).

Published reviews:
Adrienne Caughfield, Journal of American History 95 (2009): 1150.
Michael Pasquier, Church History 78 (2009): 423-425.
James R. Rohrer, Journal of Southern History 75 (2009): 787-788.
Journal of the West 48 (2009): 89.
Barton Price, Geographies of Religions and Belief Systems 3 (2013): 47-49.

Articles and Chapters

"Religious Spaces of American Whaling," in Religion and Space in the Atlantic World, John Corrigan, ed. (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, forthcoming).

"Whales, Cannibals, and Second Nature,” in forum on monstrosity, ed. John Modern, J19: The Journal of Nineteenth-Century Americanists 3 (2015): 173-181.

"The Study of American Religion: Looming Through the Glim," Religion 42 (2012): 425-437.

"The Work of Class in Southern Religion," The Journal of Southern Religion 13 (2011).

with Kathryn Lofton and Chad Seales, "Allegories of Progress: Industrial Religion in the United States," Journal of the American Academy of Religion 88 (2010): 1-39.

"Class and Labor," in Philip Goff, ed., Blackwell Companion to Religion in America (Hoboken: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010), 71-89.

"Sensing Class: Religion, Aesthetics, and Formations of Class in Eastern Kentuckys Coal Fields," in Religion and Class in America: Culture, History, and Politics, Sean McCloud and William A. Mirola, eds.(Leiden: Brill, 2008).

"A Reorienting View from the Center of the Country," in New Territories, New Perspectives: The Religious Impact of the Louisiana Purchase, Richard J. Callahan, Jr., ed. (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2008).

“Walter Benjamin and Religious Studies,” Epoché: The University of California Journal for the Study of Religions 24(2006): 1-18.

A major essay on "Sacred Time" and entries on "Fourth of July" and "Vacations" in the Encyclopedia of Religion and American Cultures, ed. Gary Laderman and Luís Léon (Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2003).

Other Writing

"The Author of Lewis Henry Morgan's Being," a response to John Lardas Modern's Religion in Antebellum America (Chicago 2011), Religion in American History Blog, June 2013.

"Oceanic Religion," Religion in American History Blog, April 2013.

"On Muslims and Mormons -- and the election," Columbia Faith and Values, October 2012.

"Zombies and Mermaids, Faith and Values," Columbia Faith and Values, July 25, 2012.

"Highway," frequencies: a collaborative genealogy of spirituality, December 7, 2011.


Mapping Religion, Culture, and Globalization: New England Whaling in the Nineteenth Century, MU Arts & Science Alumni Organization Faculty Incentive Grant, 2009.

Religion and the Atlantic World: Exploring the Case for Humanities GIS, Participant in NEH-funded Expert Workshop at The Virtual Center for Humanities GIS, The Polis Center at Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis, and the Florida State University Department of Religion, 2008-2009.

Summer Humanities Grant Writing Institute, sponsored by the Office of Research and the Center for Arts and Humanities, University of Missouri-Columbia, 2007

Religion and the Sea, University of Missouri Research Board, 2005-2006.

Religion and the Sea, MU Research Council, 2005-2006.

Provost's Research Leave Program, MU, 2005-2006.

Fellow, Young Scholars in American Religion, Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, 2004-2005.

Excellence in Teaching with Technology Award for Undergraduate Teaching, University of Missouri-Columbia, 2004-2005.

Explorations of the Lived Religion of Nineteenth Century New England Whalers, National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend, 2004.

Moving Boundaries: American Religion(s) through the Louisiana Purchase, Missouri Humanities Council Grant, 2003.

Moving Boundaries: American Religion(s) through the Louisiana Purchase, American Academy of Religion Regional Development Grant, 2003.

Connecting Local History with National and Global Themes, Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Religion and Theology Small Project Grant, 2003.

Working with Religion, MU Research Council Summer Stipend, 2003.

Predoctoral Fellowship, Interdisciplinary Humanities Center, University of California, Santa Barbara, 2000.

Dissertation Fellowship, Pew Program in Religion and American History, Yale University, 1998-1999