My name is David J. Howlett.
My research consistently engages various forms of religious mobility: e.g., pilgrimage journeys, changing understandings of sacred places, transnational connections between groups, and religious conversion. Trained initially as a historian of religions in North America (PhD, The University of Iowa), I have increasingly brought the latter field into dialogue with globalization studies. Since 2014, I have conducted ethnographic research on the RLDS/Community of Christ in Asia, with a focus on the highlands of eastern India and the rural Philippines.
My first book, Kirtland Temple: The Biography of a Shared Mormon Sacred Space (University of Illinois Press, 2014) offered a case study of contested pilgrimage in the USA and won the Best First Book Award from the Mormon History Association and the Smith-Pettit Best Book Award from the John Whitmer Historical Association. My second book, Mormonism: The Basics (Routledge, 2016), was a co-authored textbook with John-Charles Duffy (Miami University). This latter work used the multiple “streams” of Mormonism (the LDS, the Reorganization, and the polygamous Fundamentalists) to help the reader think about how young religions diversify over time and how minority religions work out their places within a larger society. In the area of global Mormon studies, my article on RLDS “conversions” in highland India and Midwestern America in the 1970s won MHA’s “Best International Article Award” (2021). Currently, I am the President Elect of the Mormon History Association and teach in the Religion Department at Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts.