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ESSWE in cooperation with the Latvian Society 
for the Study of Religion University of Latvia  and Daugavpils University

16-18 April 2015, University of Latvia, Riga, Latvia

NEW! Click HERE for the latest program.

Current understandings of esotericism as a predominantly Western, European and North-American, phenomenon are by no means self-evident. By placing “the East” at the center of attention, this conference intends to put a range of important issues on the agenda, for instance:

  • the relevance of esotericism to questions of European / Western identity, with special attention to the “orientalism”/”occidentalism” debate;
  • the notion of “Wisdom from the East”, from antiquity to the present;
  • esotericism in the contested boundary areas between “West” and “East”, notably Russia, Byzantium, and Israel;
  • the impact of Jewish and Islamic culture on key dimensions of Western esotericism such as alchemy, astrology, and natural magic;
  • the interchange between religions of the Far East such as Hinduism, Buddhism, or Daoism and Western esotericism/occultism since the 18th century and after World War II;
  • the role of esotericism in comparative religion;
  • East-West distinctions in the light of globalization and globalization of esotericism.

Conference Schedule

Thursday 16 April

8:30-12:00 Registration: Entrance Hall, Raiņa bulv. 19, University of Latvia

From 12.00 Registration: Room 240 (close to the Small Hall): The registration desk will be open during the conference: 9.00–17.00

9.00–9.30 Conference Opening (Small Hall): Opening Words on behalf of the Organizing Committee

  • ESSWE President Andreas KILCHER: Esoteric Orientalism / Esoteric Occidentalism

9.30–10.30 Plenary Session: Keynotes (Small Hall):

  • Wouter J. HANEGRAAFF (University of Amsterdam, Netherlands): The Globalization of Esotericism

10.30–11.00 Coffee Break

11.00–12.30 Parallel Sessions: A1 - B1 - C1

12.30–13.30 Lunch Break (Banquet Hall, access through the University dining hall, lower ground floor)

13.30–15.30 Parallel Sessions: A2 - B2 - C2

15.30–16.00 Coffee Break

16.00–17.30 Parallel Sessions:  A3 - B3 - C3

18.30-20.00 Welcome Reception (The Riga Latvian Society, Merķeļa Street 13).


Friday 17 April

9.00–10.00 Plenary Session: Keynotes (Small Hall)

  • Charles BURNETT (University of London, UK): The Three Divisions of Magic

10.00–10.30 Coffee Break

10.30–12.30 Parallel Sessions:  A4 - B4 - C4

12.30–13.30 Lunch Break

13.30–15.30 Parallel Sessions:  A5 - B5 - C5

15.30–16.00 Coffee Break

16.00–16.45 Thesis Prize Presentation and Lecture (Small Hall)

17.00–18.00 Meeting of Members of the ESSWE (Small Hall)

19.00 Dinner (TBA)


Saturday 18 April

8.30-9.00 ContERN meeting (Room: 240)

9.00–10.00 Plenary Session: Keynotes (Small Hall)

  • Allison P. COUDERT (University of California, Davis, USA): Orientalism in Early Modern Europe

10.00–10.30 Coffee Break

10.30–12.30 Parallel Sessions: A6 - B6 - C6 - D6

12.30–13.30 Lunch Break

13.30–15.30 Parallel Sessions:  A7 - B7 - C7 - D7

15.30–16.00 Coffee Break

16.00–18.00 Parallel Sessions:  A8 - B8 - C8 - D8

18.30 Cultural Programme (TBA)

Conference Venue

University of Lativa, Raina Boulevard 19, Riga, Latvia.

Conference Accommodation

Accommodation is available at a special ESSWE Conference rate in the Europa Royale Hotel located right in the centre of the city, 5-10 minutes walk to the conference venue, with excellent facilities at guests’ disposal. When booking please mention the special "ESSWE conference rate".

Any reservation requests received are subject to room availability and cannot be guaranteed by the organizers in case of late booking. However, there is a number of other hotels and guest-houses in Riga. The organisers of the conference will be happy to advise you individually in case of need. For more information, please write to:

Conference Chairman: Anita Stasulane (University of Daugavpils)

Scientific Committee: Marco Pasi, Wouter Hanegraaff, Peter Forshaw

Organizing Committee: Anita Stasulane, Janis Priede, Marika Laudere

Artwork: Kaspars Bērziņš (b. 1986) "Sea". Oil on cardboard. 2013

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