Dr. Nathan Alexander


Ehemaliger Junior Fellow

Junior Fellow am Max-Weber-Kolleg von September 2018 bis August 2019

Zur Person

  • PhD, Modern History (2016) – University of St Andrews (UK)
  • MA, History (2010) – Wilfrid Laurier University (Canada)
  • BA Hons, History (2009) – University of Waterloo (Canada)


I am a historian interested in two broad areas: the history of race and racism, and the history of atheism and secularism. These two interests have come together in my forthcoming book, Race in a Godless World: Atheism, Race, and Civilization in Britain and the United States, 1850-1914.

My current project is tentatively titled, “The Meanings of ‘Racism’: A History of the Concept,” and examines the history of the term and concept, “racism,” as well as earlier and related terms like “race prejudice” and “colorphobia.” Since so much of our contemporary debate about race turns on the meaning of “racism,” an analysis of the history of this concept is especially pressing. The project hopes to understand the historical meanings of “racism” and related terms, particularly to disentangle whether “racism” is best defined as being about individual beliefs and actions, or about social structures and institutions. I will also examine how these terms have been deployed in debate and how (or if) they played a role in shaping social change.

Publikationen (Auszug)


  • Race in a Godless World: Atheism, Race, and Civilization in Britain and the United States, 1850-1914

    (Manchester University Press and New York University Press, forthcoming Fall 2019).

Edited Special Issues

Journal Articles

  • “Unclasping the Eagle’s Talons: Mark Twain, American Freethought, and the Responses to Imperialism,” Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, Vol. 17, No. 3, (2018): pp. 524-545.
  • “Atheism and Polygenesis in the Nineteenth Century: Charles Bradlaugh’s Racial Anthropology,” Modern Intellectual History, (published online, 9 January 2018).
  • “E.D. Morel (1873-1924), the Congo Reform Association, and the History of Human Rights,” Britain and the World, Vol. 9, No. 2, (September 2016): pp. 213-235.

Book Chapters

  • “Histories of Atheism: A History,” forthcoming in The Cambridge History of Atheism, eds. Stephen Bullivant and Michael Ruse (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming).


  • Review of Paul Harvey, Christianity and Race in the American South: A History (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 2016), Global Intellectual History, (published online, 24 January 2018).
  • “Atheism: Whence and Whither?” (Review Essay), History of European Ideas, Vol. 43, No. 6 (2017): pp. 691-697, (published online, 14 July 2016).
    • Review of Stephen LeDrew, The Evolution of Atheism: The Politics of a Modern Movement (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016); Nick Spencer, Atheists: The Origin of the Species (London: Bloomsbury, 2014); and Mitchell Stephens, Imagine There’s No Heaven: How Atheism Helped Create the Modern World (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014).