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Center for Studies on New Religions(CESNUR)

Center for Studies on New Religions(CESNUR)

The Center for Studies on New Religions (il Centro Studi sulle Nuove Religioni), generally known by the acronym for its name in Italian, CESNUR, is the primary organization in continental Europe focusing on the study of occult and New Age religion. CESNUR was created in the mid-1980s by Italian lawyer/scholar Massimo Introvigne as an independent international educational association of scholars interested in new and alternative religions, occult and New Age religious and spiritual groups being prominent among them. The association held its first annual international conference in 1988, the most recent being in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (1999) and Riga, Latvia (2000). While the CESNUR program covers the whole field of new and alternative religious activity, its work fills an important vacuum as the only international group expressing concern about the Western esoteric tradition by promoting information gathering and scholarly research on occult and New Age groups.

An important aspect of the CESNUR program has been the creation of a large research library now located at CESNUR's headquarters at Via Juvarra 20, 10122 Torino, Italy (to be moved in the course of 2001 to Via Confienza 19, 10121 Tori-no, Italy). It is the largest publicly accessible such library in Europe and includes thousands of volumes treating ceremonial magic, Wicca, Theosophy, Spiritualism, parapsychology, and related topics. Introvigne has also created an expansive Inter-net site at http://www.cesnur.org that includes selected research papers from the CESNUR conferences, opinion papers on various controversies, and special pages carrying ongoing updates concerning such groups as the Church of Scientology and AUM Shinrikyo/Aleph. The catalog of the CESNUR library is fully accessible through the Internet site. Among the site's unique features is a Popular Culture page whose largest segment covers news and issues related to vampires and vampirism.

CESNUR is headed by an international board of scholars. It maintains a cordial relationship with the Institute for the Study of American Religion in Santa Barbara, California, with which it shares common research and educational goals. Introvigne is the author of more than 25 books, primarily in Italian, including Il Cappello del Mago (1990); Il ritorno dello gnosticismo (1993); La sfida magica (1995); Il satanismo (1997); and New Age & Next Age (2000). He is also the general editor of a series of booklets on New Religious Movements that is currently appearing in Italian, Spanish, and English, and has written numerous articles for publication in English-language books and scholarly journals.

Sources:

CESNUR. http://www.cesnur.org/. June 11, 2000. Introvigne, Massimo. Il Cappello del Mago. Milano: SugarCo, 1990.

. New Age & Next Age. Milano: Opiemme, 2000.

. Il ritorno dello gnosticismo. Milano: SugarCo, 1993.

. Il satanismo. Torino, Italy: Editrice Elle DiCi, 1997.

. La sfida magica. Milano: Editrice Ancora, 1995.

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