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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, Vol. 65, no 1, 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.

  • 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]

    Tyr – A historical and comparative study of configurations and formations connected to the Old Norse god Tyr. Klas af Edholm

     

    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. 

  • 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.

  • 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, Vol. 65, no 1, 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.

  • 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.
    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
  • 13.
    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.

  • 14.
    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.

  • 15.
    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)
  • 16.
    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)
  • 17.
    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)
  • 18.
    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)
  • 19.
    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.

  • 20.
    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.

  • 21.
    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)
  • 22.
    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)
  • 23.
    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.))
  • 24.
    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.))
  • 25.
    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.

  • 26.
    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.

  • 27. 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.

  • 28. 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.

  • 29. 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.

  • 30. 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)
  • 31.
    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.

  • 32.
    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.

  • 33.
    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.))
  • 34.
    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)
  • 35.
    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)
  • 36.
    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)
  • 37.
    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.

  • 38.
    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.

  • 39.
    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.

  • 40.
    Foxeus, Niklas
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies, History of Religions.
    Beyond Birth and Death: The Burmese Cult of Semi-Immortal Esoteric Masters2012Conference paper (Other academic)
  • 41.
    Foxeus, Niklas
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies, History of Religions.
    Contemporary Burmese Buddhism2017In: The Oxford Handbook of Contemporary Buddhism / [ed] Michael Jerryson, New York: Oxford University Press, 2017, p. 212-235Chapter in book (Refereed)
  • 42.
    Foxeus, Niklas
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies, History of Religions.
    Esoteric Theravāda Buddhism in Burma/Myanmar2013In: Digital religion: based on papers read at the symposium on Digital Religion held at Åbo/Turku, Finland, on 13-15 June 2012 / [ed] Tore Ahlbäck, Björn Dahla, Åbo: Donner Institute for Research in Religious and Cultural History , 2013, p. 55-79Conference paper (Other academic)
  • 43.
    Foxeus, Niklas
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies, History of Religions.
    Från dödsfruktan till lukrativt samarbete: individualistiska, instrumentella och performativa buddhistiska besatthetsritualer i en burmesisk ”ockult ekonomi”2015Conference paper (Other academic)
    Abstract [sv]

    Detta paper kommer att behandla individualistiska, instrumentella och performativa besatthetsritualer i en burmesisk ”ockult ekonomi”, ritualer många ägnar sig åt bl.a. för att få framgång i affärer. Dessa ritualer utgör innovationer och verkar ha konstruerats i ett dynamiskt samspel med de ekonomiska reformer och moderniseringsprogram, som implementerades under den föregående militärjuntans (SLORC/SPDC) styre (1988-2011). Dessa ritualers popularitet har ökat dramatiskt i samband med de ekonomiska och politiska reformer samt den vidare liberalisering av den kapitalistiska ekonomin som den nuvarande semi-demokratiska regeringen inledde under den ”demokratiska våren” år 2011.

    Detta paper kommer att fokusera på föreställningen om en ”pakt” människor skall ha ingått i en tidigare existens med andeväsen från underjordiska skattkammare. För att inte behöva dö och återvända till skattkammaren i unga år, måste denna pakt bekräftas och förnyas med en speciell livsförlängande ritual kallad athek-taung, ”en vädjan om (förlängd) livstid” i den mänskliga världen. Ritualen etablerar samtidigt ett samarbete mellan andeväsendet och människan, som gynnar andeväsendet, den enskilde individen och den buddhistiska samhällsordningen. Dess utförande varierar från ett dramatiserat performance av besatta deltagare iförda dyra kostymer till en enkel ritual den enskilde själv kan förrätta framför ett altare.

    Jag kommer att beröra fyra aspekter av ritualerna: 1) bekräftelse av pakten med underjorden; 2) ekonomisk framgång; 3) starka emotioner; 4) upprätthållandet av den ”traditionella” sociokulturella ordningen och källan till kollektiv identitet. Det senare syftar på en rad förkroppsligade religiösa praktiker och andra handlingar med syfte att stärka buddhismens ställning i samhället i en tid av omvälvande sociala, politiska och ekonomiska förändringar då många oroar sig för att buddhismen är hotad.

  • 44.
    Foxeus, Niklas
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies, History of Religions.
    “I am the Buddha, the Buddha is Me”: Concentration Meditation and Esoteric Modern Buddhism in Burma/Myanmar2016In: Numen, ISSN 0029-5973, E-ISSN 1568-5276, Vol. 63, no 4, p. 411-445Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    In postcolonial Burma, two trends within lay Buddhism — largely in tension with one another — developed into large-scale movements. They focused upon different meditation practices, insight meditation and concentration meditation, with the latter also including esoteric lore. An impetus largely shared by the movements was to define an “authentic” Buddhism to serve as the primary vehicle of the quest for individual, local, and national identity. While insight meditation was generally considered Buddhist meditation par excellence, concentration meditation was ascribed a more dubious Buddhist identity. Given this ambiguity, it could be considered rather paradoxical that concentration meditation could be viewed as a source of “authentic” Buddhism. The aim of this article is to investigate the issue of identity and the paradox of authenticity by examining the concentration meditation practices of one large esoteric congregation and tentatively comparing its practices with those of the insight meditation movement. It will be argued that the movements represented two varieties of so-called modern Buddhism (rationalist modern Buddhism and esoteric modern Buddhism) drawing on different Buddhist imaginaries and representing two main trends that are largely diametrically opposed to one another. They therefore represent two ways of constructing an individual, local, and national identity.

  • 45.
    Foxeus, Niklas
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies, History of Religions.
    Mimicking the State in Burma/Myanmar: Royal, Nationalist and Militant Ideology in a New Buddhist Movement2016In: Bijdragen Tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde, ISSN 0006-2294, E-ISSN 2213-4379, Vol. 172, no 2-3, p. 197-224Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    In the early post-independence period in Burma, a large number of hierarchical, initiatory, and secretive esoteric congregations were founded by charismatic leaders in urban areas. These attracted many devotees, including representatives of the state. The relationship between the state and the esoteric congregations was tense, especially during the rule of the military governments (1962–2011), and the state sought to suppress the congregations in the early 1980s.In this article, one esoteric congregation—the ariyā-weizzā organization—is taken as an example of these congregations. First, the article demonstrates how the members of this congregation view themselves as performing the state, and shows what kind of power they perceive themselves to exercise. Second, in socio-political terms, the article seeks to explain why tensions emerged between the state and the esoteric congregations, and it demonstrates how these congregations have contributed to performing the state.

  • 46.
    Foxeus, Niklas
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies, History of Religions.
    Possessed for Success: Prosperity Buddhism and the Cult of the Guardians of the Treasure Trove in Upper Burma2017In: Contemporary Buddhism, ISSN 1463-9947, E-ISSN 1476-7953, Vol. 18, no 1, p. 108-139Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Following the global spread of capitalism from the early 1990s, individualistic, non-institutionalised prosperity religion and ‘occult economies’ have emerged throughout the world, including South-East Asia, but have seemingly not yet been investigated with respect to Burma/Myanmar. This article focuses on the cult of the guardians of the treasure trove – a form of ‘prosperity Buddhism’ – in Upper Burma, wherein predominantly business women of lower middle classes perform possession dances to become successful in business. It has partly evolved from the lower status ‘traditional’ possession cult of the 37 Lords. The aim of this article is threefold. Firstly, it examines novel kinds of ‘Buddhicised’ possession rituals of higher status that discard religious specialists. These practices represent a democratisation of public spirit-mediumship and provide a route for success in business, agency and empowerment. Secondly, it is demonstrated that these cults seek to preserve Buddhism in the face of the current rapid changes in Burma. Thirdly, this article shows how these novel cults emerged in dynamic interplay with recent economic, social and political changes in Burma, as well as an increasing impact of globalisation.

  • 47.
    Foxeus, Niklas
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies, History of Religions.
    Prosperity Buddhism in Burma/Myanmar: Capitalism and Protecting Buddhism2016Conference paper (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    Following the global spread of capitalism in the early 1990s and an increasing impact of globalization, novel kinds of prosperity religions have emerged in Southeast Asia, including Burma/Myanmar. In the latter, it has entailed a gradual transformation of the religious field, with new movements, material infrastructure, rituals and imaginary. After the collapse of the socialist planned economy of General Ne Win’s government, SLORC-SPDC, another military government, seized power in 1988, which implemented modernization programs and a limited market economic system. In interplay with increasing globalization and the gradual development of a capitalist system in the 1990s, a number of “Buddhist” prosperity cults have emerged in Burma/Myanmar and have mushroomed quite recently, especially since 2011, at which time a semi-democratic government replaced the military dictatorship and has implemented a further liberalization of the economy. This paper will demonstrate that a variety of changes in the field of religion in Burma have occurred in interplay with the aforementioned social, economic and political transformations, and will especially focus on a novel kind of possession rituals, in which devotees engage to become successful in business and the like. Moreover, this paper will argue that such phenomena –prosperity religion/Buddhism –can be more conservative than what has otherwise been assumed.

  • 48.
    Foxeus, Niklas
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies, History of Religions.
    Prosperity Buddhism in Burma/Myanmar: Transformed Possession Rituals and a Refashioned Buddhist Imaginary2016Conference paper (Other academic)
  • 49.
    Foxeus, Niklas
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies, History of Religions.
    Recension av: Simon Sorgenfrei (ed.), Mystik och andlighet – kritiska perspektiv. Stockholm: Dialogos förlag 20132014In: Chaos: skandinavisk tidsskrift for religionshistoriske studier, ISSN 0108-4453, E-ISSN 1901-9106, Vol. 60, no 2Article, book review (Other academic)
  • 50.
    Foxeus, Niklas
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies, History of Religions.
    Review: The Immortals: Faces of the Incredible in Buddhist Burma by Guillaume Rozenberg trans. Ward Keeler2017In: Nova Religio, ISSN 1092-6690, E-ISSN 1541-8480, Vol. 21, no 1, p. 127-129Article, book review (Other academic)
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