Researchers in FINYAR

Are you interested in getting in touch with someone who researches new religions and alternative spirituality? Below some of the researchers active in FINYAR are presented along with their special fields of research.


Per Faxneld




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My fields of specialisation are New Religious Movements, Western esotericism, religion in relation to the arts (in particular early Modernist movements in literature and visual art) and popular culture, and, what I am perhaps best known for, Satanism. In particular, I have taken an interest in how these phenomena relate to constructions of gender, the “post-modern condition”, radical politics and strategies of religious legitimation. I have published extensively (over thirty articles and chapters), in peer-reviewed journals and collection volumes, on these topics. Methodologically, I have experience with both anthropological approaches and intellectual history using archival material. This dual perspective is, I would claim, necessary for a full understanding of religious groups.

My 2006 monograph on early Satanism, Mörkrets apostlar (Ourobos, 252 + xvii pp.), unearthed several previously overlooked figures and groups, arguing for a reappraisal of the history of this current. In 2010, I co-edited Förborgade tecken, a collection volume on esoteric motifs in literature, which was followed in 2012 by The Devil’s Party: Satanism in Modernity, a collection volume for Oxford University Press. A key theme in my research is the relation between art and esotericism, and I have written on this for example in exhibition catalogues published by the Edvard Munch Museum in Oslo and the Akseli Gallen-Kallela Museum in Helsinki. My doctoral dissertation, Satanic Feminism: Lucifer as the Liberator of Woman in Nineteenth-Century Culture (Molin & Sorgenfrei, 724 pp., new edition on its way from Oxford University Press), treats how anti-clerical feminists – primarily during the time period 1860–1930 – used Satan as a symbol of rejecting the patriarchal traits of Christianity.

I defended my dissertation at Stockholm University in 2014, and have since pursued a post-doc at Mid-Sweden University and been a visiting scholar at Cambridge University. I have also lectured at Uppsala University, Södertörn University College and the Royal Institute of Art. I frequently give talks in non-academic contexts as well, ranging from music festivals to museums like the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, Vigeland Museum, Munch Museum, National Museum of Poland (Crakow) and the Museum of Mediterranean and Near Eastern Antiquities. On several occasions, I have been interviewed on Swedish national radio (P1 and P2) and in Swedish and international newspapers (Aftonbladet, Dagens Nyheter, Daily Telegraph, etc) about my research.

Aside from the above topics, I am also interested in the role of religion in Japanese society and martial traditions (I have travelled extensively in Japan, and, before becoming a Ph.D. student, worked as a journalist for a martial arts magazine), and processes of religious change in Vietnam (where I have lived for a year).


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