J. Barton Scott

Associate Professor, Director of Graduate Studies
Jackman Humanities Building, Room 205, 170 St. George Street, Toronto, ON M5R 2M8


Fields of Study

Areas of Interest

  • Secularism 
  • Postcolonial theory and anticolonial thought 
  • Religion and law 
  • Religion, media, and popular culture 
  • Public sphere theory 
  • Affect theory 
  • History of the study of religion 
  • Modern South Asia 
  • Modern Hinduism


J. Barton Scott (Ph.D. Religion, Duke University, 2009) works on the intellectual and cultural history of religion in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, with a focus on South Asia and its global connections. He teaches courses on social and cultural theory, media and material religion, and religion in political thought. He is the author of Spiritual Despots: Modern Hinduism and the Genealogies of Self-Rule (University of Chicago, 2016) and Slandering the Sacred: Blasphemy Law and Religious Affect in Colonial India (Chicago, 2023), the co-editor of Imagining the Public in Modern South Asia (Routledge, 2016), and the lead investigator on the SSHRC-funded website The Global Blasphemer: An Atlas of Insult. He is currently working on a book called The Piercing Virtue: Isherwood's Guru in Adorno's Los Angeles, which takes the unlikely friendship between a British novelist and a Bengali monk as the starting point for a theoretically-inflected inquiry into global guru culture—into renunciation as piercing virtue—at mid-twentieth century.


PhD, Duke University
BA, Swarthmore College

Administrative Service

Director of Graduate Studies