Contemporary Esotericism: Updated call for papers

contemporary esotericism

The 1st International Conference on Contemporary Esotericism will be held in Stockholm this August. The deadline for submitting papers is drawing closer (March 30), and there have been a couple of updates – including a new keynote speaker. Check out the call for papers below.

***Call for Papers***
1st International Conference on Contemporary Esotericism

Deadline for abstracts: March 30, 2012
Submit abstracts to:
Conference website:

Department of History of Religions, Stockholm University, Sweden. August 27-29, 2012

Keynote speakers:

  • Wouter J. Hanegraaff (Center for History of Hermetic Philosophy and Related Currents, University of Amsterdam)
  • Christopher Partridge (Religious Studies, Lancaster University)
  • Kocku von Stuckrad (Study of Religion, Groningen University)
  •  Jay Johntson (Study of Religion, University of Sydney)

Conference organizers:
Egil Asprem (Center for History of Hermetic Philosophy and Related Currents, University of Amsterdam)
Kennet Granholm (History of Religions, Stockholm University)


The academic study of Western esotericism has blossomed in recent years, but there is still a major gap in scholarship on esotericism: very little research exists on contemporary phenomena. While some present-day phenomena related to esotericism, such as ‘New Age spiritualities’ and (neo)paganism, have been the focus of scholars in other fields, such developments have been largely neglected in the field of Western esotericism. While most scholarship in the field has had a focus on early modern phenomena and has been predominantly historiographical in its approach, serious attempts to develop sociological approaches to the study of the esoteric/occult have been made in recent years. The fundamental challenge is that the study of contemporary esotericism requires new definitions and methodologies, apart from those developed for the study of Renaissance and early modern esotericism. Studying contemporary phenomena poses intriguing possibilities, such as the opportunity to study esotericism in lived contexts, which unavoidably also introduce new problems.

*Suggested Topics*
The conference has two primary goals: to place contemporary phenomena on the map of esotericism-research, and to explore new theory and methodology required for the study of specifically contemporary phenomena. We thus welcome papers dealing with contemporary and recent developments in “classic” esoteric currents – e.g. within Theosophy, Anthroposophy, Freemasonry, Rosicrucianism, esoteric secret societies, and ritual magic – as well as new esoteric developments of particular relevance today – e.g. Chaos Magick, Satanism, ‘New Age’ religion, (neo)paganism, and broader ‘occultural’ developments. We also strongly encourage papers dealing with theoretical and methodological issues that are particularly pertinent to the study of contemporary esotericism, as well as papers dealing with the societal, cultural, political, religious etc. contexts of esotericism today. The conference should function as an interdisciplinary meeting place where scholars from a multitude of disciplines and with different approaches and perspectives can come together to learn from each other.


* Suggested Thematic Areas *

  • Esotericism and Gender
  • Hands-on Research: Anthropological and E-Anthropological (online research) Approaches to the Study of Esotericism
  • Esotericism, Media, and Popular Culture
  • Esotericism and Sociology; including Sociological Approaches to the Study of Esotericism, – Esotericism and Social Change, The Social Grounding of Esotericism


*Additional information*
The conference will function as the launching party for Contemporary Esotericism (Equinox Publishing), the first volume specifically dedicated to the study of esotericism in the present day. In addition, The conference is arranged in conjunction with the 2012 EASR conference, also arranged in Stockholm, Sweden (at Södertörn University, August 23-26). Panels on esotericism are planned for the EASR as well, thus providing the opportunity to engage in extended discussion on these subjects, and of course lessening travel expenses.


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