Africana esoteric studies and western intellectual hegemony: A continuing conversation with western esotericism

Stephen C. Finley, Biko Mandela Gray, Hugh R. Page

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This essay continues the conversation begun in Esotericism in African American Religious Experience: “There Is a Mystery” (2015) regarding Africana esoteric traditions and the emerging discipline devoted to their critical examination: Africana esoteric studies (AES). We provide an expanded rationale for this multifaceted endeavor, while at the same time offering a collegial exchange to the critique of AES by Wouter Hanegraaff in his article “The Globalization of Esotericism” (2015). Among our more important assertions are that the distinctive foci of AES should in no way be inhibited by or subsumed within the organizational taxonomies or hermeneutical paradigms central to Western esoteric studies and that the exclusionary and centering claims of Western esoteric studies must themselves be understood as part of a larger European colonial enterprise that creates notions of the “West,” marginalizes Africana peoples, and renders their epistemologies as aberrant. AES consciously resists such hegemonic impulses by focusing on ways in which members of a heterogeneous Africana global community deploy secrecy, concealment, selective disclosure, and other strategies for the purposes of survival and flourishing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)163-187
Number of pages25
JournalHistory of Religions
Volume60
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Religious studies

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