University College London Health Humanities Centre, UK
This project aims to produce a revisionist account of the intellectual formation of Mircea Eliade’s history of religions. By drawing on both published and unpublished documents, I will reconstruct Eliade’s engagement with the discipline of psychology, from his youth and until his mature years in Chicago in the 1960s and beyond. As such, I will firstly chart Eliade’s reading of psychological works, his personal encounter with various psychologists (e.g. René Laforgue, C.G. Jung) as well as his usage of psychological concepts (e.g. subconscious, transconscious, metapsychoanalysis), which is prevalent in his interpretation of yoga as well as in his understanding of the mission of the history of religions. Secondly, I will tease out the wider cultural context of Eliade’s forays into psychological territory, by pointing to relevant 20th century debates in Indian Studies, psychology, anthropology and the study of religions.