Jon Keune
(517) 353-0830

C735 Wells Hall
619 Red Cedar Rd
East Lansing, MI 48824

FacultyReligious Studies

Associate Professor
Religion in South Asia; Religion in East Asia; Historiography and Memory; Transnational and Comparative Studies; Religion and Non-Profits


Prior to joining MSU in 2015, Jon Keune was a postdoctoral fellow in the India Studies program at the University of Houston and in the Centre for Modern Indian Studies at the University of Göttingen in Germany.  His main field of research is in west-central India, where he lived for several years, and he has comparative interests in central Europe and East Asia.

Keune has mainly focused on the development of popular, devotional (bhakti) Hindu traditions, especially the Varkari tradition and its hagiographical literature in Marathi between the sixteenth century and the present.  His book Shared Devotion, Shared Food: Equality and the Bhakti-Caste Question in Western India considers the tension of bhakti traditions between caste hierarchy and spiritual equality.  He co-edited a volume on bhakti traditions and their many others, Regional Communities of Devotion in South Asia: Insiders, Outsiders, and Interlopers.  Keune has published many articles in journals, edited books, and encyclopedias about Hindu devotionalism, Marathi hagiography, Hindu-Christian encounters, and German orientalism.

Keune’s new research has taken a transnational turn and includes learning Mandarin Chinese.  He currently is studying the emergence of transnational networks among Buddhists in India, Taiwan, and Japan, and especially the legacy of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar in these international developments.    

He co-founded the Regional Bhakti Scholars Network, a platform which brings together scholars of various Indian regions and languages to explore patterns in literatures, traditions, and theologies that come under the umbrella of devotional Hinduism.  As part of this work, he co-directs a collaborative effort to develop the Bhakti Virtual Archive (BHAVA).  He is also active in the Maharashtra Studies Group and the AAR Hagiology Seminar.


 Ph.D., Columbia University, 2011 

 M.Div., Princeton Theological Seminary, 2002 

 B.A., St. Olaf College, 1997

Principal Scholarly Interests

Devotional Hinduism (bhakti), social history, historiography, equality studies, food and religion, medieval Marathi literature, Buddhism in modern India, Hindu-Christian encounter, transnational Buddhism in South and East Asia.


REL 101 Exploring Religion

REL 301 Theories and Methods

REL 340 Hinduism

REL 350 Buddhism in South Asia

REL 441 Devotional Hinduism

REL 480 Comparative Studies in Religion

University News

Professor Receives Fulbright Award to Research Buddhist Migrants
Published August 10, 2022 in College of Arts & Letters
Jon Keune, Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Michigan State University, received a Fulbright Global Scholar Award for the 2022-23 academic year that will support his research on the…Read now »
College Honors Faculty Promoted in 2021
Published December 15, 2021 in College of Arts & Letters
The College of Arts & Letters is pleased to recognize several faculty members who recently were promoted to full professor, associate professor, or associate professor-fixed term. These faculty…Read now »
Research and Awards Presented at Religious Studies Conference
Published May 10, 2017 in College of Arts & Letters
a lamppost and beaumont tower
This year, five undergraduate students majoring in Religious Studies were featured at the Religious Studies Undergraduate Research Conference and Awards Presentation. Two of the five students,…Read now »