Manon Hedenborg White
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
I obtained a PhD in the History of Religions at Uppsala University in 2017. My doctoral dissertation The Eloquent Blood. The Goddess Babalon and the Construction of Femininities in Western Esotericism analysed constructions of gender, focusing on femininity and feminine sexuality in modern Western esotericism, or occultism. The study centred on interpretations of the goddess Babalon, a central deity within the religion Thelema, founded by the British occultist Aleister Crowley (1875–1947). In my dissertation, I used gender and queer theoretical frameworks to analyse how interpretations of Babalon have developed during the 20th century, from Crowley until today. The study was based on published as well as unpublished archive sources, and also comprised ethnographic fieldwork and some 20 interviews with contemporary occult practitioners. The dissertation is currently under publication with a major academic publishing house, and is expected in 2019.
During 2018–2021, I am employed as a postdoctoral scholar in religious studies, with funding from the Swedish Research council, at the School of Historical and Contemporary Studies at Södertörn University. In 2018–2020, I am also a guest researcher at the Center for History of Hermetic Philosophy and Related Currents at the University of Amsterdam. My postdoctoral research project, titled "Power through Closeness? Female Agency and Authority in a Male-Led New Religion", explores female religious authority within Thelema during the 20th century, focusing on three women who were central to its development from charismatic, new religious movement to established religion: Leah Hirsig (1883–1975); Jane Wolfe (1875–1958); and Phyllis Seckler (1917–2004). The findings of the project will be made available in article and book form, as well as through conference papers, open lectures, and on social media.
Listen to me speaking about my current and previous research on Western esotericism and gender here: https://youtu.be/21V2fQyYy_k