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Author: Siv Ellen Kraft

Abstract

Once defined as a "mishmash of religions," syncretism has been referred to as a meaningless, derogatory and essentialistic term which should be banned from the fields of religio-historical research. Written in defence of the category, this article provides a review of problematic aspects and recent attempts to deal with them. Particularly useful in this concern, anthropologists Rosalind Shaw and Charles Stewart have suggested a demarcation between "syncretism" (as the politics of religious synthesis) and "anti-syncretism" (as attempts to protect religious boundaries). Taking their tools as a starting point, this article discusses shifting tendencies in the history of Theosophy. The Theosophical Society started out, it is argued, as a hyper-syncretistic religion, while at the same time promoting anti-syncretism on behalf of other religions. More recently, these strategies have been replaced by efforts to protect boundaries and demarcate its Blavatskian roots.

In: Numen
In: Handbook of Indigenous Religion(s)
In: Handbook of Nordic New Religions
In: Handbook of the Theosophical Current
In: Western Esotericism in Scandinavia
In: Handbook of Indigenous Religion(s)
Extremely distant and distinct indigenous communities have over recent decades become more like themselves and more like each other – a paradox prevalent globally but inadequately explained by established analytical frames, particularly with regard to religion. Addressing this rich and unfolding context, the Handbook of Indigenous Religion(s) engages a wide variety of locations and perspectives. Drawing upon the efforts of a diverse group of scholars working at the intersection of indigenous studies and religious studies, this volume includes a programmatic introduction that argues for new ways of conceptualizing the field of indigenous religion(s), numerous case study-based examples, and an Afterword by Thomas Tweed.
In: Handbook of Indigenous Religion(s)
In: Handbook of Indigenous Religion(s)