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Call for Papers: AAR - Western Esotericism Group

  • 2015-11-21
  • 2015-11-24
  • Atlanta
Western Esotericism Group

The Group considers proposals on any aspect in the study of Western esotericism. This year the Group invites paper proposals on the following topics:

• Western Esotericism and Animals (for a possible joint session with the Animals and Religion Group). Animals have always been a very significant presence in western esoteric discourses and practices, yet, strangely enough, they have not received much attention by scholars so far. We will have a preference for proposals dealing with the actual presence of animals in rituals and practices (as companions or as tools). However, discussions of the symbolical or allegorical presence of animals in texts and discourses will also be considered.

• Western Esotericism and Food (possibly for a joint session with the Religion and Food Group). Another case of a significant presence that has received little attention by scholars so far. Being often at the creative end of techniques for improving bodily health, rejuvenation, or even immortality, western esotericism has had a long interest in nutrition and in the preparation of elixirs and medicaments, but also in dietary requirements and regimens. Esoteric metaphors sometimes refer to processes of ingestion, digestion and excretion, and rituals of purification include indications about the preparation and consumption of food. Papers are welcome on any of these aspects.

• Western Esotericism and the Comparative Study of Religion (for a possible joint session with the Comparative Studies in Religion Section). Western esotericism has been considered by specialists as a culture-bound phenomenon, related to a specific cultural context, roughly corresponding to the Euro-American and Mediterranean geographical area and to the historical development of monotheisms. However, it would be interesting to consider in which way it could be compared to phenomena, movements, currents, and traditions from other religious cultures. Both theoretical proposals about possible approaches for comparative work on western esotericism and proposals on specific case studies are welcome.

• Western Esotericism and Ritual Studies: We are particularly interested in receiving proposals that focus on the way in which esoteric discourses often oscillate between normativity and transgression when they become embodied in rituals, for instance in gender roles and sexuality as well as in other areas. Any other aspect of the relationship between western esotericism and ritual studies will also be considered (for a possible joint session with the Ritual Studies Group).

Method: PAPERS

Process: Proposer names are visible to chairs but anonymous to steering committee members

  • Chair Claire Fanger,
  • Marco Pasi, 

Steering Committee 

  • Allison P. Coudert, 
  • Cathy N. Gutierrez, 
  • Christa Shusko, 
  • Egil Asprem, 
  • Hugh B. Urban, 

For further information check the conference homepage at 


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