Western Esotericism and the Science of Religion:
Selected Papers presented at the 17th Congress
of the International Association for the
History of Religions, Mexico City 1995
edited with Antoine Faivre
Peeters: Louvain 1998. xvii + 309 pp.
This volume is based upon papers read during the section "Western Esotericism and the Science of Religion" that was organised by Antoine Faivre, Karen-Claire Voss and myself at the 17th quinquennial congress of the International Association for the History of Religions (Mexico City, August 5-12, 1995). The goal of this innovative section was to fill a hiatus that had been noticeable at preceding IAHR congresses and was characteristic for the academic study of religions at that time. While phenomena such as gnosticism or hermetica in antiquity, and even the occult science of that period, had long been recognised as subjects worthy of academic attention, similar and related phenomena in more recent periods tended to be ignored or looked upon with suspicion. Scholars working in these fields did not have their own niche within international academic organisations; no generally-known and authoritative journal catered to their interests; and worldwide there were almost no academic chairs expressly devoted to the study of their domain.
With hindsight, it is clear that the Mexico conference of 1995 was the turning point in this regard. Followed by an even much larger series of sessions at the next IAHR conference (Durban, South Africa, 2000), it was from this time on that the study of Western esotericism began making headway in the academy.
Contributions by Joseph Dan, Antoine Faivre, Wouter J. Hanegraaff, Jean-Pierre Laurant, Arthur McCalla, Dan Merkur, Pierre A. Riffard, Italo Ronca, Jan Snoek, Garry W. Trompf, Arthur Versluis, and Jane Williams-Hogan.