For some time now, a debate has been rolling about the status of “pagan studies” as a field of academic research. It’s not that there’s been any doubt about the importance of studying contemporary paganisms; on the contrary, academic as well as mainstream interest in reconstructionist pagan groups as well as magical groups along the lines of Wicca and Thelema, still appears (anecdotally) on the increase. The problem has rather been with the aims and goals of pagan studies as a prospective discipline, as well as the approaches advocated for studying it. In an article just published in The Pomegranate – the foremost (or, rather, the only) peer-reviewed academic journal dedicated to this field – the up-and-coming (and highly productive) scholar, Ethan Doyle White (known from the Albion Calling blog), argues that the time has come for reform.
I have been meaning to post on an excellent new initiative that kicked off in January: The Religious Studies Project (RSP). It is rapidly becoming the best (and only?) webportal for the academic study of religion in Europe, sponsored by the British Association for the Study of Religion. (The Americans have things like Religion Dispatches, and a good number of related blogs – including by the legendary Peter Berger). I’ll let RSP introduce themselves: