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The academic discourse on 'magic' - a review about an ongoing controversy

Awarded: NOK 99,999

The question 'What is magic?' has received highly ambiguous answers in the academic discourse over the last one and a half centuries. Many different definitions and theories have been suggested, but none was immune against critiques. Thus, increasingly ra dical, deconstructionist positions on 'magic' have been brought forward in the last decades, leading to the abandonment of the term in a number of recent works on central concepts in religious studies. Nevertheless, there is an ongoing debate on 'magic' e specially in historical and philological disciplines that continue to perceive the term as being appropriate to analyze certain source material. The current interdisciplinary discourse on 'magic' therefore appears in a highly diverse and pluralistic shape , that has not been investigated in a thorough manner, yet. The project hence intends a survey on the academic debate on 'magic' especially concentrating on younger developments in religious studies and adjacent disciplines. A major goal is a detailed ove rview of the scholarly discourse in the last decades including the attempt to generate interdisciplinary cross-links between the usually rather isolated perspectives in historical and philological disciplines and religious studies. As a research outcome, the project shall lead to a number of articles, especially addressing the problem of conceptual incoherency and lack of collaboration among recent scholars of 'magic' in different disciplines, which will be submitted to international journals. Additionall y, the project is accompanied with the composition of an annotated reader, edited by Prof. Dr. Michael Stausberg, Bergen, and myself, which is commissioned for the book series 'Critical Categories in the Study of Religion' (Equinox Series).