Melani McAlister is Professor of American Studies, International Affairs, and Media and Public Affairs at The George Washington University. She received her PhD from Brown University and her BA from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Professor McAlister writes and teaches about U.S. encounters (cultural, political, and religious) with the Middle East and Africa. She teaches courses on the United States in a global context, cultural history, and religion & media.
McAlister recently published The Kingdom of God Has No Borders: A Global History of American Evangelicals, which explores how US evangelical Christians, white and black, have constructed their understandings of — and relationships with — people in the Middle East and Africa. The book explores US evangelical investments, from their fears of decolonization in the 1960s to activism on international religious freedom in the 1990s to responses to the Iraq war after 2003. The book starts with US missionary responses to the decolonization of Congo in 1960 and ends with the debates over the Anti-Homosexuality Law in Uganda in 2014.
She is also the author of Epic Encounters: Culture, Media, and US Interests in the Middle East since 1945, which explored US popular culture and political images of the Middle East. In addition, she is co-editor of a book with R. Marie Griffith (Washington Univ. of St. Louis), Religion and Politics in the Contemporary United States, and is currently co-editing volume 4 of the forthcoming Cambridge History of the America and the World, along with Max Friedman and David Engerman. The general editor of this exciting (and massive) project is Mark Bradley.
McAlister won an NEH Fellowship for her next project, on the global responses to the Nigeria-Biafra war of the late 1960s.
She has analyzed U.S. perceptions of the rest of the world in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Nation, and The Atlantic, among others, as well as in interviews with CNN, BBC, The New York Times, al-Jazeera, Voice of America, and NPR. Professor McAlister has lectured widely in the United States and has served as a consultant and lecturer for American Studies programs and institutes in Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, and Israel.