ContERN has kept a fairly low profile in recent years, but a lot is happening in the shadows. We are pleased to announce five exciting new developments and upcoming initiatives.
First, we welcome Dr. Susannah Crockford to the ContERN coordinator team. Crockford is an anthropologist by training, earning her PhD at London School of Economics on an ethnographic study of “new age” spirituality in Sedona, Arizona, who has also been schooled in the historical study of Western esotericism in Amsterdam. Her combination of disciplinary perspectives makes Susannah an ideal person for advancing ContERN’s mission statement of integrating social science and historical research methods on contemporary esotericism.
The fifth international ESSWE congress is coming up very soon in Riga, Latvia (April 16-18). ContERN will not be hosting any special sessions this year, but we do have a reserved slot for a brief business meeting. The ContERN meeting is scheduled for Saturday morning (April 18), at 08.30. More details about locations will be available as the congress organizer publicize the full program.
We encourage everyone who is going to the ESSWE conference and is working on any aspect of contemporary esotericism to show up for this meeting. It’s a good opportunity to meet up, brain storm about future projects, and strategize together. Getting your views on possible initiatives and collaborative projects will be the main priority of the meeting.
The ContERN organizers do, however, also bring a new project to the table that we want your input on. We are planning a ContERN special issue in Correspondences, and will want to discuss your ideas on scope, topics, and possible involvement as a contributor. Aren Roukema, one of the founders and co-editors of the journal, will be present at the meeting, so we can have a full scale discussion about format, deadlines, and any editorial issues you might have. Egil Asprem will chair the meeting.
Following last year’s Contemporary Esotericism conference in Stockholm we proudly promised that video material from the conference would be made available on the ContERN website. It’s taken us no less than 14 months, but today we finally release a first teaser from the conference: The welcome address and introductory lecture. On this occasion we would like to point your attention to the ContERN YouTube channel, created for the purpose of uploading and distributing video and audio material from our events. This is where the rest of the material from the 2012 Stockholm conference will emerge in due time.
After all this delay we are sorry to say that the quality of the videos (in terms of resolution) is not what we had hoped for. This is due to technical problems that arose with the material we had recorded. Luckily, there were at least one video track useable for the recorded lectures, and most importantly, the audio is clear. We hope that you will find the results useful despite the unfortunately grainy and static images.
We will release the rest of the material from the conference in upcoming weeks, so stay tuned! Besides being posted here and on YouTube, we keep a video archive in the pages you find under the top-right button on this website (“Online lectures”).
The new Correspondences journal is out. At the moment it’s the only Open Access academic publication in the field of esotericism. This should be a great resource for researchers in the field of contemporary esotericism. The first issue features an article by Kennet Granholm: “Ritual Black Magic: Popular Music as Occult Meditation and Practice”.
The first issue of a new peer-reviewed journal for the study of Western esotericism has just been released. There aren’t too many of those around to begin with, so Correspondences is (as announced previously) a welcome newcomer to a small field. The first issue already shows much promise with four articles covering a broad span, even breaking some new ground (read them here). But what makes this journal aparticularly important newcomer is that it is entirely open-access. Everything is published openly online (after editorial selection, peer review, copy-editing and typesetting, of course), and shared through social media under a Creative Commons license. Without compromising anything on the side of peer-review (a broad editorial board has helped the editors-in-chief find competent reviewers), and with typesetting that completely matches what the paywall-protected publishers typically can muster (let’s face it: it was never anything too fancy to begin…
The ESSWE4 conference in Gothenburg is only a month and a half away, and judging from the conference website it is looking quite promising. As previously mentioned, there will be a ContERN panel session at the conference. We are happy to announce that a time for this event has now been confirmed: June 28, at 13.00-14.00. A full description of the panel event follows below.
ContERN Panel Discussion: Problems and Potentials in the Study of Contemporary Esotericism
(Convened and moderated by Egil Asprem & Kennet Granholm)
In 2012, the hitherto neglected study of contemporary esotericism was put firmly on the research agenda of esotericism scholars: The year saw the foundation of the Contemporary Esotericism Research Network (ContERN), the organization of the 1st International Conference on Contemporary Esotericism in Stockholm, and the publication of a major collected volume, Contemporary Esotericism (Equinox / Acumen, eds. Asprem & Granholm). This panel discussion, arranged by ESSWE’s ContERN network, is intended as a platform to continue the open scholarly conversation on challenges and possibilities in the study of contemporary esotericism. The panelists will discuss questions such as: What are the boundaries of contemporary esotericism? Where do we find it? How do we study it? How is it related to processes of social change, the emergence of social networking, new media and new communication technologies, changing patterns of globalization, social migration and mobility? How can we stimulate the interdisciplinarity that is needed for a successful study of contemporary esotericism? How does (or ought) such a study relate to developments in neighbouring disciplines, such as the study of new religious movements? How can a systematic study of contemporary esotericism reflect and impact on the historical study of esotericism? The main goal of the panel is to encourage open discussion and critical reflection. Ample time will therefore be left to engage in group-discussion where the audience and the panelists can interact freely.
Participants: Dr. Kennet Granholm (University of Stockholm, co-founder of ContERN) & Dr. Egil Asprem (University of Amsterdam, co-founder of ContERN); Dr. Massimo Introvigne (managing director of CESNUR); Dr. Marco Pasi (University of Amsterdam); Prof.Dr. Wouter J. Hanegraaff (University of Amsterdam, president of ESSWE); Dr. Henrik Bogdan (University of Gothenburg, organizer of ESSWE4).
We are also happy to announce that a special ContERN roundtable has been planned, where we will continue the theoretical and methodological reflections on contemporary esotericism started in Stockholm last year. The roundtable will include the specialists of modern and contemporary esotericism Wouter J. Hanegraaff, Marco Pasi, and Henrik Bogdan (who is also the conference organizer), with a special appearance of new religious movements scholar Massimo Introvigne. More information later!
The new Correspondences journal is currently receiving submissions for its second issue (to appear in December). This would be a good opportunity for students and researchers of contemporary esotericism to get some papers published. Correspondences being an open-access online journal, it has the sort of immediacy of publication that lacks in traditional academic outlets, but which is really necessary for the study of contemporary phenomena. So do consider submitting something before the deadline on August 1! Meanwhile, we look forward to the due publication of Correspondences 1.1 in less than two months.
This is an innovative initiative in several respects. By being all online and open access, it aims to provide “a wider forum of debate regarding issues and currents in Western esotericism than has previously been possible”. Furthermore, however, it also aims to mobilize a currently unused demographic potential in the study of esotericism:
Correspondences is committed to publishing work of a high academic standard as determined by a peer-review process, but does not require academic credentials as prerequisite for publication. Students and non-affiliated academics are encouraged to join established scholars in submitting insightful, well-researched articles that offer new ideas, positions, or information to the field.
In other words, it is a refreshing initiative that aims to be true to…