Contemporary Esotericism round-up and other news

It’s been a long time away from blogging, but for good reason I assure you. While in the middle of moving house I have been finishing  my dissertation, a good 600+ pages that will be sent off to committee members on Friday. Now  more work awaits in  following up on a recent event in Stockholm: as announced many times on this blog, the 1st International Conference on Contemporary Esotericism was held at Stockholm University on August 27-29.

We (Kennet Granholm and myself) are happy to say that it was a success. With about 100 participants, almost half of which were non-speakers, it is clear that the conference attracted a popular attention quite above the average for academic gatherings of this kind. In addition to that, Kennet and I were very pleased with the collegial, enthusiastic and constructive atmosphere that arose among participants, and grateful that all practical matters went  relatively smoothly – thanks to a  great team of conference helpers that we were graced to have there. Needless to say, we were also very satisfied with the academic programme, including a nice consistency in the keynotes, a generally good dialogue in responses, and a great selection of papers.

A couple of reviews of the conference have popped up already, so if you want a second opinion I suggest you first check out Sasha Chaitow’s report over at the Phoenix Rising website.  There’s pictures, too.

In addition to that, there is an interesting insider’s view of what all the academics were up to published on the websites of a Dutch occult fraternal organisation, The Hermetic Order of the Temple of Starlight. It’s in three parts: day 1, day 2, and day 3. It appears the academic study of contemporary esotericism was not too off-putting, at least not to these particular esotericists.

Since both Kennet and I were ambushed by other duties and responsibilities once the conference was over, it has taken a little while to get on track with the follow-up. We announced the creation of a new scholarly network, the Contemporary Esotericsm Research Network (ContERN for short) during the meeting, and we are now taking steps to get this running. There will be a new website shortly, and we will open a Google group to work as an email list/discussion forum. More information on this will be posted here on Heterodoxology (and other places) as it becomes available.

ContERN is a thematic network of the European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism (ESSWE), and I can mention straight away that we are planning a special session at ESSWE4, which will be held in Gothenburg, Sweden, next summer. A call for papers will be released shortly.

Finally, I wish to acknowledge one more overdue news item. The sad news of the much too early passing of Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, who was the director of the Exeter Centre for the Study of Esotericism (EXESESO) at the University of Exeter was announced a few weeks ago. I only met Nicholas a couple of times, and, admittedly, most often quoted his work in order to criticise it (one notable exception being his masterful work on The Occult Roots of Nazism, which is a rare example of an academic monograph that remains the standard reference on its topic thirty years after it was written). In any case, his premature passing (he was 59) is a very serious loss for the academic study of esotericism, and especially to all his students on the MA and PhD level at Exeter. Here in Amsterdam we are all very concerned about what will happen to the Exeter programme, and are following the development as closely as we can. For an obituary of Goodrick-Clarke by someone who knew him much better than I did, see once again Sasha’s post at Phoenix Rising.

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This blog post by Egil Asprem was first published on Heterodoxology. It is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.


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  1. […] written by Venetia Robertson and published by the Religious Studies Project (for earlier reviews, see this post). Venetia has found out about my secret identity as an agent of the cherubim (was it my flaming […]

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