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Book: Global Phenomenologies of Religion

Chapter: Semantic Confusions and the Mysteries of Life: An Interview with Ulf Drobin (Sweden)

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.38468


Ulf Drobin was a close associate and colleague of Åke Hultkrantz, Louise Bäckman and Per-Arne Berglie. As the following interview will illustrate, Drobin is a firm believer in the neutrality of the concept of Phenomenology of Religion (PoR) as a system for classification of religious phenomena and in its necessity for the scientific studies in religion. In line with Hultkrantz (1970) and several other prominent Scandinavian historians of religion – like William Brede Kristensen (1867–1953) and Geo Widengren (1907–1996) – he also criticizes all attempts to make PoR a matter of philosophical or theological positioning or concern (see Tucket 2016; Widengren 1969, 1972). It is worth mentioning that the History of Religions department at Stockholm University, from its beginning, has been eager to uphold a non-theological profile. Unlike the case at many other Swedish universities, from the early twentieth century religion was studied at Stockholm University from a historical perspective within the faculty of humanities and without connections to either Christian academic theology or to the Church as an institution. This situation still holds today. An early theoretical contribution from the department, that can be seen as an outcome of this explicitly non-theological ambition, was the formulation of analytical concepts that were not laden with Christian connotations. A prominent example here is the system of concepts of the soul which was developed by Arbman and Hultkrantz (Drobin 2016).

Chapter Contributors

  • David Thurfjel ( - dthurfjell) 'Södertörn University'