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.
Second, as those who visited the ContERN panel at last year’s ESSWE conference in Erfurt already know, the network is currently involved with putting together a brand new Dictionary of Contemporary Esotericism, under the editorship of Egil Asprem. The dictionary will be part of the Brill Esotericism Reference Library, a series of reference works building on the legacy of the landmark Dictionary of Gnosis & Western Esotericism. Read more about the project here.
Third, we are also pleased to announce that a ContERN special issue of Correspondences has recently entered the production phase for an anticipated publication later this summer. Edited by Egil Asprem and Susannah Crockford, the special issue is entitled “Ethnographies of the Esoteric” and brings further attention to the need for – and payoff from – engaging anthropological methods and theories when studying contemporary esoteric practices.
Fourth, ContERN has long recognized the necessity of open-access publishing and the elimination of publication lag. For this reason, we are excited to launch a new online repository – the CRESARCH (ContERN Repository for Self-Archiving) – where authors can self-archive versions of their articles not covered by the publishers’ copyright claims. We hope that providing an institutional repository focused specifically on contemporary esotericism and hosted by ContERN will increase the visibility, access, and impact of research in our field. Feel free to browse the limited amount of content that has already been uploaded, and do get in touch if you wish to self-archive an article or a book chapter. Check back in as we continue to build this feature.
Fifth, and finally, ContERN was always intended to function as a network rather than a top-down organization. In a bid to kick off more grass-root activity, we want to re-launch our mailing list/Google group. Anyone can ask to be added to the list, but we kindly request that you state your purpose for wanting to join. Keep in mind that the network is for academic researchers who are actively working on contemporary esotericism or closely related fields (e.g., new religious movements), and that invite requests that do not provide evidence of such involvement will be ignored.
Stay tuned for further updates as we move forward!