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  • 1.
    af Edholm, Klas
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies, History of Religions.
    Människooffer i fornnordisk religion: En diskussion utifrån arkeologiskt material och källtexter2016In: Chaos: skandinavisk tidsskrift for religionshistoriske studier, ISSN 0108-4453, E-ISSN 1901-9106, no 65, p. 125-148Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The discussion of ritual killing and sacrifice of humans in Old Norse religion has a long tradition. In the more text oriented discipline of history of religions, the opinion has sometimes been very critical to the theories that human sacrifices were performed, while the discipline of archaeology has been more inclined to interpret some finds as the traces of sacrifice, although sometimes due to a too wide definition of the word ‘sacrifice’. Since the two disciplines use different sources, the research needs an analysis of the religious phenomenon with a consideration of the archaeological material, and with respect to how the two disciplines may contribute to the analysis. The written sources mention and describe human sacrifices, but the question of their authenticity is problematic. Some new archaeological surveys have revealed finds that has raised the question of human sacrifices during Late Iron Age in the northern countries anew. The new archaeological material may provide an altered interpretation of the written texts. But then we need to discuss the definition of ‘human sacrifice’ from the perspectives of both disciplines.

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  • 2.
    af Edholm, Klas
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies, History of Religions.
    Tyr: En vetenskapshistorisk och komparativ studie av föreställningar och gestaltningar kopplade till den fornnordiske guden Tyr2014Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
    Abstract [en]

    This thesis has two aims. One is a discussion of the history of the study of Old Norse religion and related aspects, centered on how general tendencies within the area of research have affected the interpretations of the god *Tīwaz/Tyr. Thereby, it treats a selection of influential trends of interpretation, and a selection of prominent scholars of the field. The second aim is an empirical and comparative analysis of the Old Norse source material and, to some degree, the continental Germanic, the Baltic, and the other Indo-European material. Tyr has been interpreted according to trends of research in the field; the mythological character has been used as a projection screen of the theories. Already from the beginning, Tyr was interpreted as a sky god; connected to this was the conception of an original high god. The interpretations of Tyr as a sun god, sky god, and/or law god are close related to this high god conception. These interpretations of the god Tyr has built their arguments upon the etymological connection to Indo-European words for ‘heaven, celestial’ and ‘god’, but they have not taken enough consideration of the Old Norse sources. Georges Dumézil interpreted Tyr, according to his système tripartite, as a law god. This understanding of the god has been widely adopted, but cannot be confirmed; the Old Norse material only speaks of Tyr as a war god. The comparative Indo-European etymological material indicates that his function as sky god is archaic, while the martial traits shared with the continental Germanic and Celtic counterparts prove that this characteristic must have evolved early. Tyr (or rather his predecessor *Tīwaz) lost his celestial traits and became an unmitigated war god, and as such we perceive him in the Old Norse religion. 

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  • 3.
    af Edholm, Kristoffer
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies, History of Religions.
    Rajyasri: Royal Splendour in the Vedas and the Epics2014Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
    Abstract [en]

    This thesis analyses the late-Vedic goddess Śrī and her non-personified precedent śrī ‘splendour, glory, excellence, fortune’. Śrī has not before been studied in the light of the Avestan royal splendour, xᵛarənah, and is often interpreted one-sidedly as a pre-Aryan goddess of prosperity. In contrast, this thesis locates the genealogy of Śrī’s characteristics in the Vedic goddess of dawn. The meaning of light in Vedic poetic and sacrificial terminology is highlighted, especially in the relation between royal patron and priest-poet. Śrī’s relation to terms like varcas and tejas, the “shining fame” of the hero, and epic descriptions of blazing warriors, are discussed. The nimbus in early Indian iconography is compared to descriptions of royal splendour in the texts. A subsistent theme in epics, myths and Vedic rituals is identified: the splendour won, lost and recovered by the king. This paradigm is showed to be dependent on the truthfulness, sacrificial status and asceticism of the king. A new understanding of central events in the royal consecration ritual, in the Rāmāyaṇa and the Mahābhārata are thereby offered. It is argued that a continuous and richly varied concept of royal splendour can be identified, from the Ṛgveda to the great epics, and that it is of considerable importance in the ancient Indian rulership ideology.

    Key words:  Royal splendour, śrī, goddess Śrī, Avestan xᵛarənah, tejas, varcas, svayaṃvara, ascetic, legitimation of power, fire, sun, dawn, Indra, Viṣṇu, rājasūya, king and priest-poet, Vedic ritual, Vedas, Mahābhārata, Rāmāyaṇa, Indo-European.

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  • 4.
    af Edholm, Kristoffer
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies, History of Religions.
    Recent Studies on the Ancient Indian Vrātya2017In: Electronic Journal of Vedic Studies, ISSN 1084-7561, E-ISSN 1084-7561, Vol. 24, no 1Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The ”vrātya problem” has been discussed for more than a century. It is not clear who the vrātya is, as some Vedic passages describe him in a cryptic manner. That the vrātya continues to engage scholars is demonstrated by two recent publications, both with T. Pontillo as one of the editors: The Volatile World of Sovereignty: The Vrātya Problem and Kingship in South Asia (2015), and Vrātya Culture in Vedic Sources (2016). In this review article I look at the two volumes in context of previous reseach and discuss a handful of the contributions. I also refer to a number of vrātya-related articles published elsewhere.

  • 5.
    af Edholm, Kristoffer
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies, History of Religions.
    Risk, förlust och oviss utgång i vedisk kungaritual2016In: Chaos: skandinavisk tidsskrift for religionshistoriske studier, ISSN 0108-4453, E-ISSN 1901-9106, no 65, p. 149-172Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Ritual is often seen as a safe and certain of success. That the question of risk and failure is important for our understanding of ritual has, however, been argued by an increasing number of scholars. This article analyses two Vedic śrauta rituals - the horse-sacrifice and the royal consecration - from this perspective. According to brahmanic theory, sacrifice implies a dangerous break-up of cosmic structure; once started, a ritual must be successfully brought to an end, or the performer will come out lesser than before. Royal ritual also involves political dangers: being a claim to overlordship, rivals might oppose and defeat the sacrificer. Śrauta ritual appears not as a microcosm devoid of danger and unknown outcome. Rather, risk increases a ritual’s value and is an essential part of Vedic royal ritual, wherefore the most awesome sacrifice has the highest risk factor. Danger and conflict in śrauta ritual reflect the aristocratic-agonistic culture in which it evolved.

  • 6.
    Af Edholm, Kristoffer
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies, History of Religions.
    Royal Splendour in the Waters Vedic Sri- and Avestan X(v)arenah-2017In: Indo-Iranian Journal, ISSN 0019-7246, E-ISSN 1572-8536, Vol. 60, no 1, p. 17-73Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The article explores, from an Indo-Iranian comparative perspective, the concept of 'royal splendour' and its role in myth, ritual and political discourse, in ancient Indian and Iranian texts. It argues that there are similarities both on the level of details (terminology, imagery, motifs) and on a broader level (ruler ideology), some of which likely go back to Proto-Indo-Iranian culture. The article relates the Avestan xvarenahto the Vedic sri- and varcas-, as well as their Avestan counterparts sri- and varecah-. It looks at how the Vedic/Avestan epithet apam. napat-/apam napat- is connected to the motif of aquatic and royal splendour. The Avestan concept of royal splendour, it is argued, also shares key characteristics with the late Vedic and early epic goddess Sri. As the fickle and mobile consort of successive kings, whom she approaches or abandons depending on their virtues, the epic Sri is reminiscent of xvarenah-.

  • 7. Althin, Ernst
    et al.
    Berglie, Per-ArneStockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies, History of Religions.Enwall, JoakimNygren, ChristinaStockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Oriental Languages.
    Utblickar mot öster: Tretton essäer om Orienten2012Collection (editor) (Other (popular science, discussion, etc.))
  • 8.
    Andersson, Jan
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies, History of Religions.
    Religiösa värderingar hos muslimska SFI-elever2016Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
    Abstract [sv]

    Den som säger sig tillhöra en viss religion kan i praktiken vara mer eller mindre troende, eller inte troende alls. Det kan handla om att man firar vissa högtider men utan att särskilt bry sig om deras religiösa innebörd, eller att man ibland deltar i gudstjänster och ber någon gång i månaden, eller ett liv iständig hågkomst av Guds närvaro. Spektrat av religiositet för en person kan vara allt från att religionen endast har kulturell betydelse till att man lever sitt liv helt enligt dess påbud, såväl som att man anser att religion är en privatsak till att man arbetar för att samhället skall formas enligt religionen.

    Vad gäller islam i Sverige har de muslimska samfundens organisation och aktiviteter beskrivits i ganska stor detalj. Däremot finns inte mycket kunskap om de värderingar de står för. Och vad gäller värderingar och övertygelser hos muslimer i allmänhet finns nästan ingenting skrivet. Denna uppsatstar fasta på den kunskapsbristen.

    Genom en enkätbaserad attitydundersökning av explorativ karaktär med muslimska SFI-elever somrespondenter har följande frågor undersökts:

    - Är fundamentalism ett utbrett fenomen inom denna grupp?

    - I hur stor utsträckning anser man att shari’a bör gälla för muslimer i Sverige och vad är attityden tilldemokrati?

    - Hur ser relationen mellan religion och moral ut och hur uppfattas det svenska samhället i dettasammanhang?

    Undersökningens resultat är överlag i samstämmighet med tidigare undersökningar med liknande teman. Respondenterna har en överväldigande positiv attityd till demokrati och en stor del anser också att yttrandefrihet är bra. Samtidigt tycks många mena att islam är undantaget yttrandefriheten ochatt islamiska regler är viktigare än svensk lag. Stödet för shari’a är också påtagligt. En stor majoritet menar att gudstro är nödvändig för att vara en moralisk person och anser samtidigt att Sverige är ett moraliskt land.

    På grund av urvalsmetoden och den stora andel som avstått från att delta i undersökningen kan resultatet inte generaliseras utanför gruppen av respondenter.

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  • 9.
    Arvidsson, Stefan
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies, History of Religions.
    Aryan idols: Indo-European mythology as ideology and science2006Book (Other academic)
  • 10.
    Arvidsson, Stefan
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies, History of Religions.
    Myt idag: Tankar om myt, politik och kultur i vår samtid 2012In: Chaos: skandinavisk tidsskrift for religionshistoriske studier, ISSN 0108-4453, E-ISSN 1901-9106, no 53Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The conditions for the creation, distribution and reception of myths have changed drastically during the late modern era. Do myths exist at all in the contemporary, Western societies? If so, where are they and what do we then mean by “myth”? The article is a sketchy overview of different areas where myths might be found, and the author simultaneous tries to discuss relevant definitions of myth. From the conceptualization of myth in the Enlightenment and Romantic era the article moves on to discuss the reception of mythology in New Age spirituality, the invention of Nationalist mythologies and the issue of myths in the products of the Culture industry and commerce. The main focus is on the debatable issue wither or not the liberal, “post-politic” discourse of contemporary Westerns democracies – a discourse often presented as drained of any fantastic rhetoric and only concerned with practical, instrumental decisions – could be said to contain myths.

  • 11.
    Arvidsson, Stefan
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies, History of Religions.
    Utsugare!: Begreppen revisionistisk och antirevisionistisk mytologi introducerade med hjälp av en vampyr- och varulvsfilm2011In: Chaos: skandinavisk tidsskrift for religionshistoriske studier, ISSN 0108-4453, E-ISSN 1901-9106, no 52, p. 21-37Article in journal (Refereed)
  • 12. Ashbrook Harvey, Susan
    et al.
    Arentzen, ThomasRydell Johnsén, HenrikStockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies, History of Religions.Westergren, Andreas
    Wisdom on the Move: Late Antique Traditions in Multicultural Conversation: Essays in Honor of Samuel Rubenson2020Collection (editor) (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Wisdom on the Move explores the complexity and flexibility of wisdom traditions in Late Antiquity and beyond. This book studies how sayings, maxims and expressions of spiritual insight travelled across linguistic and cultural borders, between different religions and milieus, and how this multicultural process reshaped these sayings and anecdotes. Wisdom on the Move takes the reader on a journey through late antique religious traditions, from manuscript fragments and folios via the monastic cradle of Egypt, across linguistic and cultural barriers, through Jewish and Biblical wisdom, monastic sayings, and Muslim interpretations. Particular attention is paid to the monastic Apophthegmata Patrum, arguably the most important genre of wisdom literature in the early Christian world.

  • 13.
    Ask, Julia
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies, History of Religions.
    Decoration and Death: The Sringar of Baba Shamshan Nath2019Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
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  • 14.
    Ask, Julia
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies, History of Religions.
    “No Rules Apply to Another Man’s Wife”: Social Reforms of the Devadasi System in South India2014Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
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  • 15.
    Asprem, Egil
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies, History of Religions.
    Apocalyptic Anxiety: Religion, Science, and America’s Obsession with the End of the World by Anthony Aveni. (University of Colorado Press, 2016)2018In: Nova Religio, ISSN 1092-6690, E-ISSN 1541-8480, Vol. 21, no 3, p. 116-118Article, book review (Other academic)
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  • 16.
    Asprem, Egil
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies, History of Religions.
    Aren't We Living in a Disenchanted World?2019In: Hermes Explains: Thirty Questions about Western Esotericism / [ed] Wouter J. Hanegraaff, Peter J. Forshaw, Marco Pasi, Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2019, p. 13-20Chapter in book (Other academic)
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  • 17.
    Asprem, Egil
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies, History of Religions.
    Conspiracy Theories2020In: The SAGE Encyclopedia of the Sociology of Religion / [ed] Adam Possamai, Anthony J. Blasi, Sage Publications, 2020Chapter in book (Refereed)
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  • 18.
    Asprem, Egil
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies, History of Religions.
    Esotericism2020In: The SAGE Encyclopedia of the Sociology of Religion / [ed] Adam Possamai, Anthony J. Blasi, Sage Publications, 2020Chapter in book (Refereed)
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  • 19.
    Asprem, Egil
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies, History of Religions.
    Esotericism and the Scholastic Imagination: The Origins of Esoteric Practice in Christian Kataphatic Spirituality2016In: Correspondences: Online Journal for the Academic Study of Western Esotericism, E-ISSN 2053-7158, Vol. 4, p. 3-36Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Scholars agree that the imagination is central to esoteric practice. While the esoteric vis imaginativa is usually attributed to the influx of Neoplatonism in the Italian Renaissance, this article argues that many of its key properties were already in place in medieval scholasticism. Two aspects of the history of the imagination are discussed. First, it is argued that esoteric practice is rooted in a broader kataphatic trend within Christian spirituality that explodes in the popular devotion literature of the later Middle Ages. By looking at the role of Bonaventure’s “cognitive theology” in the popularization of gospel meditations and kataphatic devotional prayer, it is argued that there is a direct link between the scholastic reconsideration of theimaginative faculty and the development of esoteric practices inspired by Christian devotional literature. Secondly, it is argued that the Aristotelian inner sense tradition of the scholastics left a lasting impression on later esoteric conceptualizations of the imaginative faculty. Examples suggesting evidence for both these two claims are discussed. The article proposes to view esoteric practices as an integral part of a broader kataphatic stream in European religious history, separated out by a set of disjunctive strategies rooted in the policing of “orthopraxy” by ecclesiastical authorities.

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  • 20.
    Asprem, Egil
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies, History of Religions.
    Explaining the Esoteric Imagination: Towards a Theory of Kataphatic Practice2017In: Aries: Journal for the Study of Western Esotericism, ISSN 1567-9896, E-ISSN 1570-0593, Vol. 17, no 1, p. 17-50Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The imagination is central to esoteric practices, but so far scholars have shown little interest in exploring cognitive theories of how the imagination works. The only exception is Tanya Luhrmann's interpretive drift theory and related research on mental imagery cultivation, which has been used to explain the subjective persuasiveness of modern ritual magic. This article draws on recent work in the neuroscience of perception in order to develop a general theory of kataphatic (that is, imagery based) practice that goes beyond the interpretive drift theory. Mental imagery is intimately linked with perception. Drawing on "predictive coding" theory, the article argues that kataphatic practices exploit the probabilistic, expectation-based way that the brain processes sensory information and creates models (perceptions) of the world. This view throws light on a wide range of features of kataphatic practices, from their contemplative and cognitive aspects, to their social organization and demographic make-up, to their pageantry and material culture. By connecting readily observable features of kataphatic practice to specific neurocognitive mechanisms related to perceptual learning and cognitive processing of mental imagery, the predictive coding paradigm also creates opportunities for combining historical research with experimental approaches in the study of religion. I illustrate how this framework may enrich the study of Western esotericism in particular by applying it to the paradigmatic case of " astral travel" as it has developed from the Golden Dawn tradition of ritual magic, especially in the work of Aleister Crowley.

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  • 21.
    Asprem, Egil
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies, History of Religions.
    Om religionspluralisme, reformasjon, og postsekularitet2016In: Internasjonal Politikk, ISSN 0020-577X, E-ISSN 1891-1757, Vol. 74, no 4Article in journal (Refereed)
  • 22.
    Asprem, Egil
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies, History of Religions.
    Predictive processing and the problem of (massive) modularity2019In: Religion, Brain & Behavior, ISSN 2153-599X, E-ISSN 2153-5981, Vol. 9, no 1, p. 84-86Article in journal (Other academic)
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  • 23.
    Asprem, Egil
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies, History of Religions.
    Rosicrucianism2020In: The SAGE Encyclopedia of the Sociology of Religion / [ed] Adam Possamai, Anthony J. Blasi, Sage Publications, 2020Chapter in book (Refereed)
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  • 24.
    Asprem, Egil
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies, History of Religions.
    Science as a Commodity: Disenchantment and Conspicuous Consumption2020In: Narratives of Disenchantment and Secularization: Critiquing Max Weber's Idea of Modernity / [ed] Robert A. Yelle, Lorenz Trein, London, New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2020, p. 51-70Chapter in book (Refereed)
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  • 25.
    Asprem, Egil
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies, History of Religions.
    Spiritualism2020In: The SAGE Encyclopedia of the Sociology of Religion / [ed] Adam Possamai, Anthony J. Blasi, Sage Publications, 2020Chapter in book (Refereed)
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  • 26.
    Asprem, Egil
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies, History of Religions.
    The Magical Theory of Politics: Memes, Magic, and the Enchantment of Social Forces in the American Magic War2020In: Nova Religio, ISSN 1092-6690, E-ISSN 1541-8480, Vol. 23, no 4, p. 15-42Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The election of the 45th president of the United States set in motion a hidden war in the world of the occult. From the meme-filled underworld of alt-right-dominated imageboards to a widely publicized “binding spell” against Trump and his supporters, the social and ideological divides ripping the American social fabric apart are mirrored by witches, magicians, and other esotericists fighting each other with magical means. This article identifies key currents and developments and attempts to make sense of the wider phenomenon of why and how the occult becomes a political resource. The focus is on the alt-right’s emerging online esoteric religion, the increasingly enchanted notion of “meme magic,” and the open confrontation between different magical paradigms that has ensued since Trump’s election in 2016. It brings attention to the competing views of magical efficacy that have emerged as material and political stakes increase, and theorizes the religionizing tendency of segments of the alt-right online as a partly spontaneous and partially deliberate attempt to create “collective effervescence” and galvanize a movement around a charismatic authority. Special focus is given to the ways in which the politicized magic of both the left and the right produce “affect networks” that motivate political behaviors through the mobilization of (mostly aversive) emotions.

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  • 27.
    Asprem, Egil
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies, History of Religions.
    The Problem of Disenchantment: Scientific Naturalism and Esoteric Discourse, 1900-19392014Book (Refereed)
  • 28.
    Asprem, Egil
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies, History of Religions.
    Theosophy2020In: The SAGE Encyclopedia of the Sociology of Religion / [ed] Adam Possamai, Anthony J. Blasi, Sage Publications, 2020Chapter in book (Refereed)
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  • 29.
    Asprem, Egil
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies, History of Religions.
    Davidsen, Markus Altena
    What Cognitive Science Offers the Study of Esotericism2017In: Aries: Journal for the Study of Western Esotericism, ISSN 1567-9896, E-ISSN 1570-0593, Vol. 17, no 1, p. 1-15Article in journal (Other academic)
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  • 30.
    Asprem, Egil
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies, History of Religions.
    Dyrendal, Asbjørn
    Close Companions? Esotericism and Conspiracy Theories2018In: Handbook of Conspiracy Theory and Contemporary Religion / [ed] Asbjørn Dyrendal, David G. Robertson, Egil Asprem, Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers, 2018, p. 207-233Chapter in book (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Western esotericism is intimately linked with conspiracy theories. On the one hand, conspiracy theories often focus on alleged “secret societies” such as the Illuminati, the Rosicrucians, or the Freemasons, sometimes thought to possess superhuman powers. On the other, contemporary esoteric currents often spin their own conspiratorial narratives involving reductionist science, materialistic medicine, and corrupt repressive politicians, acting in concert to keep the true esoteric knowledge of divine origins and human potential from a population starved of spiritual truth. How might we explain these relationships? This article proposes a model that combines historical, sociological, and psychological factors, arguing that the relationship is intrinsic. Historically, “esotericism” is a product of mnemohistorical processes where “hidden lineages” from ancient times to the present play a crucial role, both for adherents identifying with such secret traditions and opponents attributing unwanted developments to secret cabals; socially, esotericism is organized along the lines of the loosely structured and culturally deviant “cultic milieu”; psychologically and cognitively, the cultic milieu produces selection pressures that favour certain personality traits and cognitive styles associated with increased conspiracism as well as paranormal beliefs and attributions, and produce forms of “motivated reasoning” that make conspiracy theories about “the establishment” – and competing esoteric groups – appealing.

  • 31.
    Asprem, Egil
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies, History of Religions.
    Robertson, David G.
    Dyrendal, Asbjørn
    Afterword: Further Reflections, Future Directions2018In: Handbook of Conspiracy Theory and Contemporary Religion / [ed] Asbjørn Dyrendal, David G. Robertson, Egil Asprem, Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers, 2018, p. 527-534Chapter in book (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    While the handbook as a whole establishes the study of conspiracy theory as an interdisciplinary subfield in the study of religion and transcends the usual geographic limits in studies of conspiracy beliefs, this afterword identifies key topics that should be developed further in future research. Mediatization, transnational flows, and glocalized uses of conspiracy theories are topics that continue current research trends, but there is also need for considering the role of specific religious organizations. The dynamic relationship between organized religion and state power, when conspiracism is disseminated from above, is another area that tends to be overlooked in current research. Some geographical and cultural areas are left all but untouched, with conspiracy thinking in non-literate societies a particularly glaring lacuna. A broadening of methodological approaches is also warranted. Gender, sexuality, and the body are central loci for both organized religion and conspiracy theories, but notably absent from existing research. Finally, the role that religion might play not only in the creation, spread and adoption of conspiracy beliefs, but also in in resistance against them deserves further attention.

  • 32.
    Asprem, Egil
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies, History of Religions.
    Taves, Ann
    Explanation and the Study of Religion2018In: Method Today: Redescribing Approaches to the Study of Religion / [ed] Brad Stoddard, Equinox Publishing, 2018, p. 133-157Chapter in book (Other academic)
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  • 33.
    Asprem, Egil
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies, History of Religions.
    Taves, Ann
    To Our Critics2018In: Method Today: Redescribing Approaches to the Study of Religion / [ed] Brad Stoddard, Equinox Publishing, 2018, p. 192-203Chapter in book (Other academic)
    Download full text (pdf)
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  • 34.
    Berglie, Per-Arne
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies, History of Religions.
    Goda råd och fula ord: En burmesisk gudinna talar2012In: Utblickar mot öster: Tretton essäer om Orienten / [ed] Per-Arne Berglie, Joakim Enwall, Christina Nygren, Stockholm: Svenska Orientsällskapet , 2012, p. 11-18Chapter in book (Other (popular science, discussion, etc.))
  • 35.
    Berglie, Per-Arne
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies, History of Religions.
    Inledning2012In: Utblickar mot öster: Tretton essäer om Orienten / [ed] Per-Arne Berglie, Joakim Enwall, Christina Nygren, Stockholm: Svenska Orientsällskapet , 2012, p. 5-10Chapter in book (Other (popular science, discussion, etc.))
  • 36.
    Brusi, Frédéric
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies, History of Religions.
    "De äro allesammans muhammedaner, men jag gör allt hvad jag kan för att följa deras seder!": Tankar kring ett fotografiskt porträtt av Ivan Aguéli2017In: Aura. Tidskrift för akademiska studier av nyreligiositet, ISSN 2000-4419, Vol. 9, p. 61-80Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [sv]

    Det Egyptiska sekelskiftet var minst lika omvälvande som det Franska, och Aghili lyckas även i Egypten gravitera mot händelsernas centrum. Trots att Aghili befinner sig i Kairo under vad som kommit att kallas den islamiska renässansen, och att han själv kan sägas vara engagerad i en av tidens reformrörelser, gapar forskningen om denna tid i hans liv av stora hål. Religionshistorikern Frédéric Brusi kontextualiserar i sitt bidrag Aghilis religiopolitiska verksamhet i Egypten, men pekar också på en rad oklarheter i Aghilis biografi, oklarheter som öppnar mot nya forskningsfält.

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  • 37.
    Brusi, Frédéric
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies, History of Religions.
    Om reformationer inom islam2017In: Svensk kyrkotidning, ISSN 0346-2153, no 10, p. 290-294Article in journal (Other (popular science, discussion, etc.))
    Abstract [sv]

    "Islam behöver en reformation" är ett påstående man ofta får höra i debatten. Det påståendet bygger på tre premisser: att islam är en monolit som varit oförändrad genom seklerna: att kristendomens utveckling är normativ för andra religioner; samt att reformation är liktydigt med framsteg och modernitet Frédéric Brusi problematiserar i denna artikel dessa premisser.

  • 38. Crockford, Susannah
    et al.
    Asprem, Egil
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies, History of Religions.
    Ethnographies of the Esoteric: Introducing Anthropological Methods and Theories to the Study of Contemporary Esotericism2018In: Correspondences: Online Journal for the Academic Study of Western Esotericism, E-ISSN 2053-7158, Vol. 6, no 1, p. 1-23Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    In this article, we introduce the ContERN special issue on ethnographies of the esoteric. While the study of esotericism has been dominated by historical-philological scholarship, recent years have seen an increase in anthropological approaches to contemporary esotericism. We argue that this development provides the field not only with new tools, but also fresh perspectives on long-standing theoretical challenges. What are the implications of situating esotericism in particular ethnographic fieldsites? How does anthropological theory reflect on deep-rooted assumptions in the field? We address these questions using examples from the articles in the present special issue as well as other recent ethnographies of esoteric subject matter.

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  • 39. Dyrendal, Asbjørn
    et al.
    Asprem, Egil
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies, History of Religions.
    Robertson, David G.
    Conspiracy Theories and the Study of Religion(s): What We are Talking about, and Why it is Important2018In: Handbook of Conspiracy Theories and Contemporary Religion / [ed] Asbjørn Dyrendal, David G. Robertson, Egil Asprem, Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers, 2018, p. 19-47Chapter in book (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Conspiracy theory and religion are both contested categories. They are ’complex cultural concepts’ the use of which depends on the specific social formations making use of them. These constructions, all involving struggles over power, meaning, and signification, can both help and hinder interdisciplinary dialogue and multidisiplinary approaches. In this chapter we trace some of the building blocks that different academic disciplines bring to and make use of in their study of conspiracy theory to show the potential connections and delineate some of the conflicts. The chapter centres on the building blocks going into studying conspiracy theory as knowledge and as narrative, and goes on to highlight some of the potential ties to the study of religion.

  • 40. Dyrendal, Asbjørn
    et al.
    Robertson, David G.Asprem, EgilStockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies, History of Religions.
    Handbook of Conspiracy Theory and Contemporary Religion2018Collection (editor) (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Conspiracy theories are a ubiquitous feature of our times. The Handbook of Conspiracy Theories and Contemporary Religion is the first reference work to offer a comprehensive, transnational overview of this phenomenon along with in-depth discussions of how conspiracy theories relate to religion(s). Bringing together experts from a wide range of disciplines, from psychology and philosophy to political science and the history of religions, the book sets the standard for the interdisciplinary study of religion and conspiracy theories.

  • 41. Enstedt, Daniel
    et al.
    Larsson, GöranSardella, FerdinandoStockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies, History of Religions.
    Religionens varp och trasor: En festskrift till Åke Sander2016Collection (editor) (Other academic)
  • 42.
    Evans, Ulrika
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies, History of Religions.
    Jag är inte religiös men... Attityder till religion, andlighet och ateism och hur media rapporterar om dessa ord.2016Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
    Abstract [en]

    This essay intends to examine how three Swedish newspapers report about religion. The research has been undertaken about spirituality, religion and secularism relating to the years 2010 until 2015. The study also has the aim of investigating the Swedish ambivalence, both in the past and currently, to religious questions. The study demonstrates that even if secularity is strong in Sweden, many Swedish people are bound to the Church and embrace a personal faith.

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  • 43.
    Faxneld, Per
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies, History of Religions.
    Assuming the Role of the Demon Woman: Sarah Bernhardt, Luisa Casati, Theda Bara, Rebellious Roleplay and Satanic Feminism2013Conference paper (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    The paper treats three individuals (Sarah Bernhardt, the Italian marchioness Luisa Casati and silent film actress Theda Bara) during the years 1880–193. Both onstage and offstage they actively assumed the role of the demon woman, an endavour which to a varying extent also incorporated satanic motifs. They chose—or, in one case, were chosen—to embody the (more or less supernatural) femme fatale, constructed by male authors and artists, and seemingly felt this was enjoyable, empowering or useful for commercial purposes. My analysis attempts to tease out some of the implications this enacting of a sinister stereotype had on an individual level as well as in a broader cultural context.

    Bernhardt wore a bat hat and serpent jewelry, at times derided Christianity and even sculpted a self-portrait of herself as Satan or a demon. Casati practiced magic and threw curses, dressed up as Satan in the Garden of Eden, commissioned a mural of herself as Eve consorting with Lucifer, and organized parties with staff in devil costumes. Bara was presented by the Fox publicity department as a real-life demon woman, and in her films played vampiric femme fatales who punished and tormented males. Many of the films had titles where Satan was mentioned, and in one of them she even turned out to literally be the Devil in disguise.

    The choice of demonic imagery for these identity games tells us something about exactly what the taboos and limits these women consciously transgressed and mocked were tied up with: conservative Christian values. Embracing demons, satanic serpent motifs, and the macabre thus functioned as a critique of such values, and was one of the registers of symbolic resistance available for rebellious women to draw on at the time. In Bara’s case, the demonic persona was not devised by herself, but is an example which is of more interest because of the audience response to it and what it says about shifts in use of Satan as a marker of female rebellion. Satanism, or flirting with the satanic, is always a language of resistance to conventions, which may be more or less articulate when it comes to specific cultural criticism. The use of Gothic and Satanic symbolism by fiercly independent women would accordingly have resonated with notions in the wider culture, and, with figures as highly public as these using it, must have created echoes far beyond their intimate sphere. It thus strengthened the ties between such symbolism and female emancipation. Taking all this into account, it is reasonable to see these women as participants in the amorphous fin-de-siècle discourse of satanic feminism.

  • 44.
    Faxneld, Per
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies, History of Religions.
    Baron Jacques och Markisinnan Luisa: dekadenta satanister på Capri i 1900-talets början2013Conference paper (Other (popular science, discussion, etc.))
  • 45.
    Faxneld, Per
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies, History of Religions.
    Blod, sæd og astrale energisugere: Edvard Munchs Vampyr2011In: eMunch.no – Tekst og bilde / [ed] Mai Britt Guleng, Oslo: Munch Museum , 2011, p. 186-199Chapter in book (Other academic)
  • 46.
    Faxneld, Per
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies, History of Religions.
    Blood, Sperm and Astral Energy-Suckers: Edvard Munch's Vampire2011In: eMunch.no – Text and Image / [ed] Mai Britt Guleng, Oslo: Munch Museum , 2011, p. 187-198Chapter in book (Other academic)
  • 47.
    Faxneld, Per
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies, History of Religions.
    Feminist Vampires and the Romantic Satanist Tradition of Counter-readings2010Conference paper (Refereed)
  • 48.
    Faxneld, Per
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies, History of Religions.
    Hysteria, gender and Satanism: The pathologization of devil-worship in nineteenth-century culture2013Conference paper (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    In turn-of-the-century France, the ongoing battle between the Catholic Church (which had traditionally been in charge of caring for the insane) and the developing discipline of psychiatry gave rise to lively debates concerning the nature of demonic possession and witchcraft. Psychiatrists claimed such phenomena, in past eras as well as in contemporary times, could be explained as expressions of hysterical conditions. Some Catholics, on the other hand, saw hysteria as a sign of demonic activity. Hysteria and the demonic were in turn used all over Europe to stigmatize feminists, who in conservative discourses were frequently metaphorically described as shrieking, hysterical witches or even, literally or implicitly, in league with Satan.

    The sulfurous connotations of feminism were given support by some feminists, like Matilda Joslyn Gage (1826–1898), describing medieval witchcraft as a form of laudably anti- patriarchal Satanism – but fiercely denying witches were hysterics, in order to reject the negative stereotyping of feminists as mentally ill or aberrant. When a woman expressed sympathy for the Devil, as for example the radical individualist feminist Mary MacLane (1881–1929) did in an autobiographical book in 1902, male reviewers predictably held her up as hysterical and mentally ill, thus attempting to dismiss her subversive ideas and Satanic cultural critique as proof of a pathological condition.

    Other men, like the Berlin-based Decadent Satanist Stanislaw Przybyszewski (1868–1927), took a different stance, and celebrated what others called degeneration, evil and hysteria. To him, all this was essential for the evolution of the species. He affirmed the connection between Satan, women and hysterical, ecstatic states of mind, but elevated Satan to a patron of progress in science and art.

    The paper explores the conflation of Satanism and the medical diagnosis of hysteria in nineteenth century culture, and attempts to tease out some of the gendered implications the bringing together of the two had at the time.

  • 49.
    Faxneld, Per
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies, History of Religions.
    The Devil is Red: Socialist Satanism in the Nineteenth Century2013In: Numen, ISSN 0029-5973, E-ISSN 1568-5276, Vol. 60, no 5-6, p. 528-558Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    During the nineteenth century, socialists all over the Western world employed Satan as a symbol of the workers’ emancipation from capitalist tyranny and the toppling of the Christian Church, which they perceived as a protector of this oppressive system. Starting with the English Romantics at the end of the eighteenth century, European radicals developed a discourse of symbolic Satanism, which was put to use by major names in socialism like Godwin, Proudhon, and Bakunin. This shock tactic became especially widespread in turn-of-the-century Sweden, and accordingly the article focuses on the many examples of explicit socialist Satanism in that country. They are contextualized by showing the parallels to, among other things, use of Lucifer as a positive symbol in the realm of alternative spirituality, specifically the Theosophical Society. A number of reasons for why Satan gained such popularity among socialists are suggested, and the sometimes blurry line separating the rhetoric of symbolic Satanism from actual religious writing is scrutinized.

  • 50.
    Faxneld, Per
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies, History of Religions.
    Witches, Anarchism and Evolutionism: Stanislaw Przybyszewski’s fin-de-siècle Satanism and the Demonic Feminine2012In: The Devil’s Party: Satanism in Modernity / [ed] Per Faxneld, Jesper Aa. Petersen, Oxford University Press, 2012, p. 53-77Chapter in book (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This chapter presents the Satanism propagated by the Decadent author Stanislaw Przybyszewski (1868–1927), and interprets the role women play in it. Unlike other literary Satanists, Przybyszewski's sympathy for the Devil was sustained through many works, he publicly declared himself a Satanist and the ideas were well-developed enough to be called a system. Przybyszewski, the chapter argues, was therefore “the first Satanist” in a strict sense. The core themes in his thinking are a celebration of evolution (anchored in social Darwinism) and sexual lust, a pessimist view of human existence, and lastly a nihilist anarchist will to destruction, all presented using a shock tactic of semantic inversion typical of the Decadent movement, turning “evil”, “degeneration” and other usually obviously negative words into designations for something positive. Reading Przybyszewski's seemingly misogynist texts about witches within this framework, a plausible interpretation is that he is not at all slandering her but rather pays homage to her as a vitally necessary representative of the evolutionary “good evil” his system is centered around.

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