Balbier, Professor Uta

Professor Uta Balbier

Tutorial Fellow in History and Professor of Modern History

Academic background

Uta Balbier is a historian of the twentieth-century United States with a particular interest in religion and America’s global relationships. Fascinated by the diversity and dynamics of the US religious landscape, she seeks through her research to enhance our understanding of the myriad ways in which religion underpins concepts of national belonging. She has explored how religion functions as a tool of exclusion, and how it is shaped by – and in turn refracts – America’s engagement with the world. Her interest in transnational US history stems from her training in European and American History at the Universities of Münster and Potsdam. A former post-doctoral fellow at the German Historical Institute in Washington DC, she joined Oxford from King’s College London, where she was a Senior Lecturer in Modern History.


Uta Balbier is teaching US history from 1863 until the present day, giving both tutorials and lectures on topics such as American consumer history, the Cold War and the Culture Wars, and America and the World. She is looking forward to supervising undergraduate dissertations, which for example might explore the political power of cultural phenomena such as religion, sport and consumption, or engage with exciting fresh historiographies on race, gender and transnationalism, as well as those inspired by queer and disability studies. She also teaches on the Sources and Historiography core course for the MSt History strand on US History and offers an optional MSt module entitled US Religions Abroad.

Research interests

In her forthcoming monograph Altar Call in Europe. Billy Graham, Mass Evangelism, and the Cold-War West, Balbier traces the transnational connections between the revival meetings that the evangelist Billy Graham held in London, Berlin and New York in the 1950s. She shows how those revival meetings provided lively forums for ministers, politicians and ordinary Christians to imagine and experience the future of faith, the role of religion in the Cold War, and the intersections between faith and consumer culture in new ways. Graham challenged both believers and religious leaders to re-position religion amidst the rise of consumerism, moral post-war regeneration, and cold-war tensions. At this transatlantic confluence of anxieties and desires, Graham’s ministry revealed remarkably similar needs among the faithful and those yearning for renewal. By prominently featuring the ideas, hopes and practices of ordinary Christians, the book raises questions about what constitutes religious life, the secularity of the 1950s, and the artificial boundary between the sacred and the profane. Her future research will build on her interest in the global history of US religions. She will examine the encounters and relationships between American, British, and Nigerian evangelical and Pentecostal Christians at the time of decolonisation to explore the extent to which changing Imperial power relations and increasing national ambitions have both shaped and been shaped by religious ideals and practices.

Recent Publications

Uta Balbier, Altar Call in Europe. Billy Graham, Mass Evangelism, and the Cold-War West, New York, Oxford University Press, 2021.


Uta Balbier, Hans Krabbendam, Kendrick Oliver, Axel Schäfer (eds.), Special Issue: Exploring the Global History of American Evangelicalism, Journal of American Studies 51(4), 2017.