Political Aspects of New Age Culture in Israel

New Age   |   politics   |   religion   |   new religious movements   |   cults
Years of Activity: 2010 - 2012

Research Status:

Not Active

Dr. Eliezer Baumgarten, Shai Ben Tal, Dr. Chen Bram, Ido Harari, Prof. Yuval Harari, Prof. Boaz Huss, Yoad Kadari, Prof. Tamar Katriel, Shlomit Kessler, Dr. Adam Klin-Oron, Assaf Leibowitz, Prof. Yonatan Meir, Tom Orgad, Shai Perero, Tomer Persico, Carmit Rosen, Dr. Mariana Ruah-Midbar, Assaf Sharabi, Prof. Don Siman, Dr. Dalit Simhai, Assaf Tamari, Dr. Rachel Werczberger

Many contemporary societies are experiencing an increasing presence of religious phenomena and movements, and new cultural forms are emerging that are related to, but distinct from, traditional religious phenomena. These manifestations are usually termed “New Age,” and scholars recognize that the processes they involve are among the important social and cultural developments of recent decades.
On the basis of its study of aspects of New Age culture in Israel, the group seeks to challenge the common wisdom according to which it is a phenomenon pertaining only to individuals that emphasizes aspects of personal expression, self-realization, and personal freedom, and that New Age culture is both a symptom and a catalyst of the retreat from politics, or at least from certain aspects of it. The group is considering a variety of issues that arise in this context: the arrangements, organization, and discipline of the social relations within and between groups associated with the New Age; the perception of the political and of politics among participants in New Age culture; the New Age in a sociopolitical context; and ways in which the New Age influences political processes in society and how they are conceptualized.
The group has twenty-one participants and meets monthly. It makes possible debate between scholars from such diverse disciplines as philosophy, history, sociology, and anthropology, culture studies, and Jewish thought. In May 2011, the group held a seminar that was open to the public, with the participation of Prof. Wouter Hanegraaff of the University of Amsterdam and Prof. Mark Sedgwick of the Aarhus University in Denmark. In September 2011, the group held a conference titled “ ‘Cults’ or ‘New Religious Movements’? The Debate over the Proper Response by the State.” The conference, which was held following the report of the Social Affairs Ministry and the social services titled “The Phenomenon of Cults,” brought together for the first time scholars, social workers, anti-cult activists, and members of new religious movements.