Professor McAlister’s expertise is in Afro-Caribbean religions including Haitian Vodou, Pentecostalism, race theory, transnational migration, and evangelical spiritual warfare. In recent years McAlister has written on the militarization of prayer, zombies in pop culture, Haiti after the 2010 earthquake, and fundraising telethons. She has been interviewed in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, CNN, The New Yorker, Newsweek, public radio’s “Fresh Air,” and consulted for PBS, The Learning Channel and Afropop Worldwide on Public Radio International. She serves as expert witness in legal cases involving Afro-Caribbean religions.

Her first book is Rara! Vodou, Power, and Performance in Haiti and its Diaspora (University of California Press, 2002) and is an analysis of this parading musical festival as both religious and political. Her second book, co-edited with Henry Goldschmidt, theorizes race and religion as linked constructs: Race, Nation, and Religion in the Americas (Oxford University Press, 2004).

McAlister has produced three compilations of Afro-Haitian religious music: Rhythms of Rapture (Smithsonian Folkways, 1995), Angels in the Mirror, and the CD Rara that accompanies her first book.

With a grant from the John Templeton Foundation/Social Science Research Council, she was recently awarded a grant to study what she terms “aggressive forms of prayer.”