Max Weber Prize for “The Problem of Disenchantment”

Prof. Hans Kippenberg delivering his laudatio.

Prof. Hans Kippenberg delivering his laudatio.

On December 1, I was awarded the Max-Weber-Preis für Nachwuchsforschung from the Max Weber Center for Advanced Cultural and Social Studies in Erfurt for The Problem of Disenchantment. It was given in absentia, but upon receiving the manuscript of Prof. Hans Kippenberg’s laudatio, I was pleased to see that finally someone picked up on my namesake from the sagas, a certain “wayward Icelandic seafarer”. Kippenberg’s concluding words:

Es ist eine herausragende Arbeit eines Nachwuchswissenschaftlers in dem Feld zwischen Religionswissenschaft und Naturwissenschaft, ist bezogen auf Webers Forschungsprogramm, interdisziplinär angelegt und mit historischer Tiefe und langem Atem, wie man ihn von einem Seefahrer erwarten darf.

I guess Egil Skallagrimsson was actually more of a farmer than a sailor (incidentally that fits better with my own family background, too), but perhaps our shared warrior-poet mentality and ruthless brutality make the link stick nevertheless.

In any case, this is now the fourth prize for The Problem of Disenchantment, and perhaps the one that means the most to me. With Weber towering over the work for so long, and the book arguing for some serious revisions to Weberian approaches, it does mean a lot to get the recognition of an institution that, so to speak, carries Weber’s “routinized authority” in the present day.



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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Greetings Egil!

    My heartiest congratulations on your Max Weber Award! As you say, it is the one award of four for you that has special meaning and it actually has special meaning for me, too, if only in a synchrodipitous way (synchrodipity = synchronicity + serendipity) because at the moment, I am working on the draft of a blog posting called “The Routinization of Rudolf Steiner’s Charisma,” as a way of explaining to my fellow Anthroposophists and to Steiner Critics alike, how the ideas of Max Weber so accurately inform what has transpired in the world of anthroposophy since Steiner’s death in 1925. (Don’t get me started — yet! 😉

    I first heard of your work through the acclaim you received from Prof. Peter Staudenmaier at Marquette for your Disenchantment book. I’ll link to his latest posting on the Waldorf Critics’ Yahoo group and then copy the first sentence which is about you and your book.

    “It has been a good year for scholarship on the history of occultism. In addition to the several works mentioned here previously — above all Egil Asprem’s study The Problem of Disenchantment: Scientific an Naturalism and Esoteric Discourse, 1900-1939 (Leiden: Brill, 2014), with substantial attention to Steiner, . . . “

    For me, Peter’s historical study of anthroposophy in Germany and Italy during the Nazi era is invaluable in providing a professional historian’s perspective on those critical first 20 years after the death of the charismatic leader – something the insider-followers are loathe to consider. I myself can bear witness to the “Routinization-of-Steiner” process over the past 4 decades since I discovered anthroposophy and became a Waldorf teacher. (I am now a long-retired Waldorf teacher and something of an anthroposophical apostate.)

    Again, congratulations on your award and welcome to Southern California.

    Best regards,

    Tom Mellett
    Los Angeles, CA

    • Dear Tom, it’s nice to hear from you, and thanks for pointing me to Peter’s generous words! I’m a fan of his work, too. In fact I made sure we already got a review published of his book in Correspondences – just out a couple hours ago:

      The routinization of charisma angle on Steiner and later Anthroposophy seems helpful to me. I’d love to see that analysis done consistently.

      Best from snow-covered Norway (currently on vacation – far away from SoCal!)


  2. Seems like a huge honor to me! Great work.

  3. Tillykke, Egil!!!

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