Mark Sedgwick – The Importance of Ivan Aguéli for International Esotericism

A video documentation of the lecture from September 12, 2020

Ivan Aguéli is best known in Sweden as an artist and a convert to Islam. He was also a key figure in the development of an international esoteric movement, however: Traditionalism, which today has followers from Moscow to Brazil, some in academia, some in the arts, and some in politics—including President Trump’s former advisor, Steve Bannon. In this lecture, Mark Sedgwick will describe the Traditionalist movement, consider Aguéli’s contact with its key philosopher, René Guénon, in Paris in 1910, and explain Aguéli’s contribution: his personal impact on Guénon, his writings in the French journal La Gnose, and his disputed role in initiating Guénon into the living Tradition.

Mark Sedgwick is professor of Arab and Islamic Studies at Aarhus University, and first became interested in Ivan Aguéli during the 1990s, while teaching at the American University in Cairo. He is the editor of Anarchist, Artist, Sufi: The Politics, Painting, and Esotericism of Ivan Aguéli, forthcoming from Bloomsbury (London) in late 2020. He is the author of two books on Traditionalism and Western Sufism, and also writes on Sufism in the Arab world. He is the convener of the European Network for the Study of Islam and Esotericism, and the chair of the Nordic Society for Middle Eastern Studies.