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A Parapsychologist, an Anthropologist, and a Vitalist Walk into a Laboratory: Ernesto de Martino, Mircea Eliade, and a Forgotten Chapter in the Disciplinary History of Religious Studies

1
Institute for the Science of Religion and Central Asian Studies, University of Bern, 3012 Bern, Switzerland
2
Department of Religious Studies, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22903, USA
Religions 2019, 10(5), 304; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10050304
Received: 3 April 2019 / Revised: 20 April 2019 / Accepted: 28 April 2019 / Published: 1 May 2019
While the work of the Italian historian of religion, Ernesto de Martino (1908–1965), has frequently been compared to that of Mircea Eliade, Claude Lévi-Strauss, or Clifford Geertz, he has hardly received any attention in anglophone scholarship to date. Taking an all-but-forgotten controversy between de Martino and Eliade at a conference on parapsychology in France in 1956 as its starting point, the article fills part of this lacuna by first reconstructing the philosophical universe underlying the Italian thinker’s program of study. In the process, it introduces the reader to three Weimar scientists, who have never before been inserted within the canon of the study of religion, namely the parapsychologist Albert von Schrenck-Notzing (1862–1929), the anthropologist Leo Frobenius (1873–1938), and the biologist and philosopher Hans Driesch (1867–1941). Contextualizing these thinkers within their historical context, it becomes clear that they were part of a larger scientific crisis that affected the Western world during the first half of the twentieth century. Finally, the article uncovers surprising affinities, particularly the fact that the Romanian thinker had his very own parapsychological phase during his youth. View Full-Text
Keywords: history of religions; Italian School; Ernesto de Martino; Mircea Eliade; scientific crisis; parapsychology history of religions; Italian School; Ernesto de Martino; Mircea Eliade; scientific crisis; parapsychology
MDPI and ACS Style

Geisshuesler, F.A. A Parapsychologist, an Anthropologist, and a Vitalist Walk into a Laboratory: Ernesto de Martino, Mircea Eliade, and a Forgotten Chapter in the Disciplinary History of Religious Studies. Religions 2019, 10, 304.

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