Ethical encounters in the archives

On studying individuals in esoteric contexts



modern esotericism, gender, biography, literature, theosophy, Ruusu-Risti, archives


This article discusses archival sources and biographical history in the context of the history of modern esotericism. Presenting a case study and archival material of a Finnish writer Aarni Kouta (1884-1924) the article asks, what are the ethical challenges of studying individuals and their intimate sources in the context of esotericism. The starting point is in the forgotten figures of esoteric history, and thus the article reflects how our understanding of history and more precisely on the history of esotericism changes when we look at those whose history has not been presented before. I will argue that we need to be much more sensitive to the differences in the past when doing interpretations concerning individuals, and we have to be ethically aware of our position as interpreters. This means careful working with historical source materials, but also sensitivity to both the long traditions of esotericism and to the multiple contexts of particular historical moments.   

How to Cite

Leskelä-Kärki, M. (2020). Ethical encounters in the archives: On studying individuals in esoteric contexts . Scripta Instituti Donneriani Aboensis, 29(1), 28–48.