Despatialization: Offering a New Theoretical Approach for Understanding Occult South Asia
Panel:25 | Occult South Asia: Rethinking the History of Modern South Asian Religions and Spiritualities Through the Lens of Esotericism Research and Vice Versa
Timeslot:07/27 | 11:00-11:20 UTC+2/CEST
This paper aims to contribute to new methodological and theoretical approaches that bridge the gap between the studies of esotericism and occultism on one hand, and South Asian studies on the other. Making a broad overview of how the esoteric currents from the West and Indian spirituality mutually influenced each other, an attempt will be made to develop a study of an entangled history of occultism. I will discuss how the category of “rejected knowledge” (Hanegraaff) worked in colonial South Asia, where occultism was accepted by the educated middle class and became integrated into mainstream socio-cultural life. On this basis, it will be demonstrated how the notion of “entanglement” and “transculturality” should be used to study occultism in modern South Asia. This paper will critically engage with theories from the field of Esotericism studies, Post-colonial studies, Grammar of Identity/Alterity (Gingrich and Baumann), and investigate how these could be applied in the study of occultism in South Asia, thus giving a new direction in academic research.