Since 1986

International Theosophical History Conference 

Call for Papers

The Theosophical Movement and Globalism
Interconnections, Innovations, and Comparisons 

Online via zoom 8-10 October 2021 

We live in a time in which the world is becoming increasingly interconnected. A steady growing number of people from all around the globe directly participate in this by travelling to faraway destinations, meeting people from various cultures, by using the various media platforms, which the internet has made available, or by following global news. This interconnectedness does, however, not only take place by our current population becoming geographically closer but also manifests itself through time. Historical awareness also brings the past into the present. Increased historical study of the great variety of cultures from around the world and their histories thus facilitate a global interconnectedness through time. Global history, as a relatively new approach to world history, for example, seeks to cultivate the richness of past, present, and cross-cultural perspectives by taking the globe as the point of departure.

The Theosophical Society (est. 1875) and the many groups, events, and cultural dynamics that make up the broader “Theosophical Movement” has almost from the outset been globally oriented.

Primary spokespersons of the Theosophical Society have for example been keen on combining ideas and concepts from a wide variety of cultures and from different time-periods. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky’s works are for example figuratively speaking tightly woven textual carpets build of numerous references to ancient Egypt, India, Tibet, China, Greece and to traditions such as Platonism, Hermetism, spiritualism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, Islam and Judaism. Modern philosophers and scholars of various scientific disciplines are also a part of this texture. There is interconnectedness and an attempt to synthesize the global cultural heritage in Theosophy.  In a certain respect, Theosophy is a reflection of global history and modern globalism.

This global tendency of the Theosophical Society also has a more contemporary geographical dimension. Blavatsky (born in Russia) was by nature already a world-citizen having travelled extensively and having become an American citizen. The global outlook was a part of her awareness and together with Henry S. Olcott, she singled out India as the right place for the headquarters of the society. Due to this early global outlook, the Theosophical Society has members from many different countries and thereby now has a global history. The Theosophical Society has likewise influenced global politics, as is well known in relation to the independence of India and has been instrumental as a carrier of cultural elements both from Europe and America to Asia as well as from Asia to Europe and America.

This thematic focus on the Theosophical movement in relation to globalism, therefore, welcomes a global array of papers from an equally broad array of disciplines. Some theoretical keywords are interconnections, innovations, differences, comparisons, ideologies and entanglements; and some of the central questions that we want to address are:

  • How do Theosophists deal with, approach, use, or portray different traditions or ideas from around the world or from different time periods, and why? Are such traditions or ideas seen as fundamentally interconnected with or different from Theosophy? Are all traditions and ideas equal in value and applicability? Does Theosophy reinterpret them and thereby innovate upon established traditions and their meanings? Are differences or similarities highlighted? Is the use of such varying traditions entangled with a number of sources (such as translations of texts from the traditions by non-theosophists) or perspectives (from different world-views or ideological backgrounds)?
  • What has the role of Theosophical Society been in the formulation of so-called ‘modern Buddhism’ and ‘neo-Hinduism’?
  • Is Theosophy or Theosophical literature global? Are there many voices in Theosophical literature from around the globe or has it primarily a European or American voice?
  • Is the Theosophical Society a global society? Why, why not, and how?
  • How is the Theosophical movement related to globalization and globalism?
  • Is Theosophy a part of “Western esotericism”. How and why? Does the terms “Western” “esotericism” help in the classification and understanding of the Theosophical movement?
  • What is the role of India in the Theosophical movement? India is the home of the Adyar headquarters and many other Theosophical centres. India holds a central place in Theosophical history and India is, to many people within the Theosophical movement, a place of special ideological and occult significance. Why and how?
  • Do the perspectives on Theosophy vary in different parts of the world? Is Theosophy viewed differently today than it was in its early years? Why and how?
  • How does the Theosophical movement relate to traditional cultures? Is there a tension between globalism and traditional cultures in the Theosophical movement?
  • Has the Theosophical movement produced perspectives on the globe, cultural centres, our current time- or previous time-periods and are these reflected in modern processes of globalization?
  • Why and how has the Theosophical movement promoted world peace, universal brotherhood, vegetarianism and ecology?
  • Has the global tendency of Theosophy influenced the modern arts (such as visual or textual)? Has Theosophy influenced Asian or European literature by for example introducing “foreign concepts”, such as the “Western” notion of “the occult” in Asia or the “Eastern” idea of karma in Europe and the US? Do we find depictions of Vishnu, Shiva, Krishna, and Buddha in Europe or elsewhere due to Theosophy or of Pythagoras and Christ in Asia because of Theosophy?

Keynote Speakers

Karl Baier (Associate Professor and Head of the Department of Religious Studies, University of Vienna, Austria).

Paper Proposals

Any person may submit a paper to the conference committee on any aspect of the subject. Summaries of no more than 200 words and 50 words biography should be sent to the secretary of the ITHC Erica Georgiades via email (erica.georgiades@gmail.com). All paper proposals will be evaluated by our scientific conference committee prior to acceptance.

Presentations

Suggested presentation time 30 minutes including questions and answers.

Important Dates 

• Deadline for submission of a paper: 1 June 2021
• Notification of acceptance: 1 July 2021

Registration & Fees

The conference is free of charge and everyone is welcome.

The online registration to the 2021 ITHC will open when the programme is released. The conference zoom link will be announced alongside the programme. For more information, please send an email to erica.georgiades@gmail.com

Location  

Online – Zoom Platform. 
Date 8-10 October 2021

The conference schedule will be based on different time zones. Specifics will be available when the full programme is released.

Conference Committee 

• Conference Chair: Prof. Tim Rudbøg (Associate professor, Science of Religion, director of the Copenhagen Centre for the Study of Theosophy and Esotericism, University of Copenhagen)
• Prof. James Santucci (Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies at California State University, Fullerton.)
• Erica Georgiades (MRes  Religious Experience Cand, University of Wales Trinity Saint David; PgD Merit Ancient Religions UWTSD; BA, Hons, Philosophy and Psychological Studies OU)..