Tuesday, 31 August 2021

ENSIE3 program online

The program for ENSIE 3, the 2021 meeting of ENSIE​, “Islam and Esotericism: Societies, Politics, and Practices”, 29 September-1 October 2021 on Zoom, is now online at http://ensie.site/conferences.html.

Participants will be sent a Zoom link the day before the conference starts; other members of ENSIE who wish to attend should request the link by sending an email to ensie21@ensie.site.

Wednesday, 14 April 2021

Sufism and Gender in Contemporary Societies

The Center for Comparative Studies of Civilisations and Spiritualities at the Fondazione Giorgio Cini in Venice has issued a Call for Papers for a conference on Sufism and Gender in Contemporary Societies.
This conference aims to explore these themes of gender and sexuality within contemporary and historical Sufi traditions. Keeping in mind the call to decolonize knowledge production and epistemologies that subvert binaries of “resistance versus subordination” in Muslim women’s life-worlds, we aim to take an expansive discussion of the complex processes of the agentive formation of gendered Sufi subjectivities.
Conference to be held in Venice on 3 December 2021. Abstracts by 1 June 2021. See https://www.cini.it/en/events/sufism-and-gender-in-contemporary-societies

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

Residential scholarships in Venice

The Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Venice, offers 10 residential scholarships to PhD students and post-doc students who must not be over 40 years old on June 10, 2021, and interested in spending two consecutive months in Venice between January and December 2022. The selected projects have to be connected with Cini's research centres and libraries. Among them, there is the Centre for Comparative Studies and Civilisations that focuses also on spirituality, esotericism, and mysticism.

Wednesday, 10 March 2021

2021 Meeting of ENSIE: Call for Papers

Islam and Esotericism: Societies, Politics, and Practices

2021 Meeting of the European Network for the Study of Islam and Esotericism (ENSIE) 
29 September-1 October 2021 on Zoom 

The European Network for the Study of Islam and Esotericism (ENSIE) invites proposals for its 2021 meeting, to be held on Zoom 29 September-1 October 2021. The theme for the meeting is “Islam and Esotericism: Societies, Politics, and Practices.” 

Religious studies, and especially the study of esotericism, tend to focus on text production and ideas. Societies, politics, practices—and also economics, social forms, and the material—are often neglected in the study of esotericism, partly due to methodological challenges. We would therefore like to invite scholars to submit proposals focusing on these dimensions of Islam and esotericism, of esotericism and Islam, and of Islamic esotericism. 

We especially invite proposals from sociologists and anthropologists, as well as other scholars. The chronological scope stretches from medieval to contemporary times. 

We invite papers that engage with these aims, but—as usual—proposals relating to Islam and Esotericism that do not relate to the meeting theme are also welcome. 

The meeting will be held over successive afternoons to make it possible for both European scholars and scholars in American time zones to participate. 

There is no fee for attending the meeting. 

The meeting is being held in 2021 rather than 2022 (when it would normally be held, following ENSIE’s standard practice) because the 2021 meeting of the European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism (ESSWE), of which ENSIE is a thematic network, has moved its 2021 conference to 2022 because of Covid, and ENSIE’s 2022 meeting will therefore be part of ESSWE’s 2022 conference. 

By 15 May 2021, please send to ensie21@ensie.site
  • The title and abstract (250 words maximum) of your proposed paper.
  • Your name, institution, academic position, a brief bio
  • A short CV. 
Scientific committee 
The meeting is organised by
  • Mark Sedgwick, Professor of Arab and Islamic Studies, Aarhus University, and Convener of ENSIE
  • Liana Saif, assistant professor in the History of Western Esotericism in The Middle Ages, University of Amsterdam
  • Francesco Piraino, Postdoc, Universit√† Ca’ Foscari, Venice, and Fondazione Giorgio Cini
  • Michele Petrone, Adjunct professor, Universit√† di Milano
Updates at http://ensie.site/conferences.html.

Friday, 5 March 2021

Esoteric Transfers and Constructions

Just published: the book of the 2018 ENSIE conference, held in Venice. Esoteric Transfers and Constructions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, ed. Mark Sedgwick and Francesco Piraino (New York: Palgrave, 2021).

Similarities between esoteric and mystical currents in different religious traditions have long interested scholars. This book takes a new look at the relationship between such currents. It advances a discussion that started with the search for religious essences, archetypes, and universals, from William James to Eranos. The universal categories that resulted from that search were later criticized as essentialist constructions, and questioned by deconstructionists. An alternative explanation was advanced by diffusionists: that there were transfers between different traditions. This book presents empirical case studies of such constructions, and of transfers between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam in the premodern period, and Judaism, Christianity, and Western esotericism in the modern period. It shows that there were indeed transfers that can be clearly documented, and that there were also indeed constructions, often very imaginative. It also shows that there were many cases that were neither transfers nor constructions, but a mixture of the two.

See https://www.palgrave.com/gp/book/9783030617875 for full table of contents and other details. 

Monday, 1 February 2021


Because of Covid restrictions, the eighth ESSWE conference, for which ENSIE has arranged three panels, which was originally scheduled for 5-7 July 2021, has been postponed until the summer of 2022, probably also 5-7 July, and still in Cork.

Given this, the third ENSIE conference, originally planned for the summer of 2022, will be brought forward to 2021, almost certainly online. Further details will be announced later.