PAPERS Resources

AAR Annual Meeting
San Diego, CA
November 23-26, 2019

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Western Esotericism Unit

Statement of Purpose: 

This Unit seeks to reflect and further stimulate the current process — reflected in the recent creation of new teaching programs, international associations, journals, book series, and reference works — of professionalization and scholarly recognition of Western esotericism as a new area of research in the study of religion. For more information on the field, see the websites of the European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism (ESSWE, http://www.esswe.org), the Association for the Study of Esotericism (ASE, http://www.aseweb.org), and the Center for the History of Hermetic Philosophy and Related Currents at the University of Amsterdam (http://amsterdamhermetica.nl). Information about the academic journal Aries and the Aries Book Series can be found on the website of Brill Academic Publishers (http://www.brill.com/aries; and http://www.brill.com/publications/aries-book-series).

Call for Papers: 

We invite papers on the following topics:

The Pre-Modern and Modern Use of Ancient Texts -
 Joint session with the Mysticism and Gnosticism in Antiquity Group (SBL).
This session is an open call for papers that explore the reuse of ancient texts in the western reception history of mysticism, esotericism, and gnosticism from the Greco-Roman world. It will emphasize adaptation, not just transmission, including both the antique, medieval, and modern periods.

● Authority and Feminine Leadership in Esoteric Groups -
This session aims at encouraging a broader look at issues of feminine authority in relation to esotericism in both past and present situations. How is authority negotiated for women in esoteric groups? What roles do gender switching or gender ambiguity play in esoteric leadership? In what situations do aspects of performed femininity play well (even for men)? We welcome papers on broad issues of feminine authority in the present and the past, especially papers that look at biography through the lens of social context, in relation to normative gender construction and social processes of group formation.

● Public Secrets: Esotericism and the Politics of Identity -
If secrets held communally can help to enhance a group's sense of exclusivity, sometimes communities that feel excluded may enhance their sense of elite status by the accretion or suggestion of accreted secrets. Esotericism may help to form spaces where excluded groups can build up power they need. How do identity politics engage esotericism (or strategically disengage it)?. This panel invites papers exploring various aspects of the relationship between esotericism, exclusion, and identity politics.

● Latin-American Esotericism(s) -
Ideas and practices rooted in Western esotericism have had a huge impact on the religious landscape of Latin-America. Whether we think of Kardecism, umbanda and qimbanda, celebrity mediums like Chico Xavier, or aspects of the Ayahuasca religions, Latin-America may indeed be the biggest area of growth for esotericism today. Yet, it has been very little studied, finding itself in the shadow of the notion of "Western" esotericism as a predominantly European-(North-)American phenomenon. This panel invites papers on all aspects of Latin American esotericism broadly conceived.

Method: 
PAPERS
Process: 
Proposer names are visible to chairs but anonymous to steering committee members
Comments: 
So far the process of review mostly works for us as far as getting good quality papers. I do not think it stands in the way of increased diversity since what we are getting is basically representative of the demography of the field.
Leadership: 
ChairSteering Committee