June 14, 1955 |
Massimo Introvigne (born June 14, 1955 in Rome) is an Italian sociologist and intellectual property consultant. He is the founder and managing director of the Center for Studies on New Religions (CESNUR), an international network of scholars who study new religious movements. Introvigne is the author of tens of books and articles in the field of sociology of religion. He was the main author of the Enciclopedia delle religioni in Italia (Encyclopedia of Religions in Italy). He is a member of the editorial board for the Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion. and of the advisory board of University of California Press' Nova Religio. He is also a consultant on intellectual property rights. From January 5 to December 31, 2011, he has served as the "Representative on combating racism, xenophobia and discrimination, with a special focus on discrimination against Christians and members of other religions" of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). In June 2012, he was appointed by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs as chairperson of the newly instituted Observatory of Religious Liberty, created by the Ministry in order to monitor problems of religious liberty on a worldwide scale.
Born in Rome on June 14, 1955, Massimo Introvigne reported in a partially autobiographical paper presented at the 2008 yearly conference of the American Academy of Religion in Chicago how his interest in non-Christian religions dates back to his reading as a young boy of the novels of Emilio Salgari, Rudyard Kipling, and Luigi Ugolini (1891–1980, the author of the 1950 Italian novel L'isola non-trovata), which included references to Hinduism, Islam and other religions not generally well-known at that time in Italy. The popular encyclopedia Le grandi religioni del mondo (The Great Religions of the World), published in 1964 by the leading publishing house Rizzoli, was – according to the same paper – also an influence on the young Introvigne, who devotedly purchased its monthly instalments at age nine. Also in the Chicago paper, Introvigne mentions the crucial importance of his Jesuit high school, the Istituto sociale in Turin, Italy, between 1970–1973. As other Italian high schools in these years, that one hosted a vigorous political debate, and Introvigne attended it in the same years of future left-wing Italian leader Piero Fassino and centrist politician Michele Vietti (whose cousin, the scholar of Islam Silvia Scaranari, he will eventually marry in 1982). At the same school he met the Catholic conservative organization Alleanza Cattolica which he joined in 1972. He went on to obtain a laurea degree (equivalent to a master's degree) in Philosophy from the Pontificia Università Gregoriana in Rome, a Vatican-accredited institution, and a laurea degree in Law from the University of Turin, Italy. During the Gregoriana years he also attended (as a layman, i.e. not as a seminarian studying for priesthood) the Catholic Almo Collegio Capranica, where he had as fellow students the future Archbishops Rino Fisichella, Nikola Eterović, and many others who will later become prominent figures of the Catholic Church. His dissertation at the University of Turin was on John Rawls, and was later published in 1983 by Giuffré as I due principi di giustizia nella teoria di Rawls, the first work on Rawls in Italian. The dissertation was directed by Italian philosopher Enrico di Robilant, with whom Introvigne worked between 1979 and 1985 as an assistant lecturer.
Gradually, he shifted his main interests from philosophy to sociology, and from law to religion. In 1987 he presented a paper at the international conference of the Mormon History Association in Oxford, where he started a long-lasting co-operation with Swiss historian Jean-François Mayer and with the Utah lawyer and historian Michael W. Homer, which would eventually lead to the establishment of CESNUR in 1988. He taught short courses in the sociology of religious movements at the Athenaeum Pontificium Regina Apostolorum and in 2005–2006 at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, both Vatican-accredited institutions. In 2012 he joined the faculty of the Pontifical Salesian University, also accredited by the Vatican, as a professor of Sociology of Religious Movements and, as of 2013, of Sociology of Religions. In the second edition of his Nuovo manuale di sociologia della religione (New Manual of Sociology of Religion) Roberto Cipriani, former president of AIS (Associazione Italiana di Sociologia) and one of Italy's leading sociologists, calls Introvigne "one of the Italian sociologists of religion most well-known abroad, and among the world's leading scholars of new religious movements".
From 1980, Introvigne also developed parallel activity as an intellectual-property attorney. As of 2011[update] he works as a partner in the Jacobacci & Partners patent- and trademark-consultancy firm in Turin, Italy, and is counsel in the law firm Jacobacci & Associati, a firm he helped establishing in 1998. He is also one of the partners. although with no role in the management, of Terrazza Solferino, a company which bought and restored the historical terrace and Liberty apartment of the same name in Turin as a center for business and culture. He is married and has four children.
Introvigne started collecting books on minority religions and esoteric-gnostic schools in the 1970s. As of 2011[update] his collection includes more than 60,000 volumes – see the online catalogue made available to the public via the CESNUR library.
From 2008 to 2016 he has served as vice-president of the Catholic movement Alleanza Cattolica and he has been one of the founding members of the Italian think tank Res Publica initiated in 1999 by Silvio Berlusconi, to which The People of Freedom it is closely connected. Introvigne was also a member of the National Council of the Italian Christian Democrat party UDC – Union of the Centre, but disagreed with this party's decision not to support Silvio Berlusconi at the Italian political elections of 2008 (which Berlusconi eventually won) and left the party. At the regional elections of 2010 in his home region of Piedmont Introvigne emerged as one of the most vocal supporters of the conservative candidate, Roberto Cota (who defeated governor Mercedes Bresso) and a vitriolic critic of the support given by the UDC and other Catholics to the strongly pro-choice Bresso.
In 2010 he was appointed by the Italian Ministry for Internal Affairs as one of the 19 members of the Comitato per l'Islam Italiano, a body created by the same Ministry in order to advise the government in matters related to the Islamic minority in Italy. From January 5 to December 31, 2011 he served as "Representative on combating racism, xenophobia and discrimination, with a special focus on discrimination against Christians and members of other religions" of the OSCE. In this capacity, he organized inter alia the international conference of OSCE on hate crimes against Christians held in Rome on September 12, 2011. In his speech at the Ministerial Council of OSCE in Vilnius, Lithuania, on December 6, 2011, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti,Secretary for the Holy See's Relations with States, with a reference to the mandate of Introvigne at OSCE during the year 2011, when Lithuania chaired the organization, stated that «last September's Meeting in Rome on the theme "Preventing and responding to Hate Incidents and Crimes against Christians" was a successful and hopeful event, and revealed the possibility of constructive dialogue toward mutual understanding and respect among Christians, members of other religions, and nonbelievers. The Holy See appreciates the outstanding work that was done under the Lithuanian Chairmanship to combat intolerance against Christians». Mentioning his past experience with OSCE, in June 2012 the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs appointed Introvigne chairperson of the newly instituted Observatory of Religious Liberty, created by the Ministry in co-operation with the City of Rome in order to monitor religious liberty on a worldwide scale.
Introvigne is the author of more than 60 books including Le Nuove Religioni ("The New Religions". 1989), and I Mormoni ("The Mormons", 1991), and editor of nine books in the field of sociology of religion. In 2001, he was the main author of the Enciclopedia delle religioni in Italia (Encyclopedia of Religions in Italy), one of the most reviewed Italian books in this field. A second edition, Le Religioni in Italia, was published in 2006, and a third one in 2013.
He has also written hundreds of articles, both in daily newspapers (including Silvio Berlusconi's Il Giornale of Milan) and in religious and secular periodicals. Some twenty of them were published in scientific journals in various countries, as can be seen in his bibliography. The same bibliography shows him as contributor of several collective works on the sociology of religion. After the September 11 attacks in the United States in 2001, an important part of his work has been devoted to the study of Islamic fundamentalism and to the application to this field of the methodology developed by scholars of new religious movements. In Italy, Introvigne is known as one of the main proponents of the sociological theory of religious economy developed by Rodney Stark and Lawrence Iannaccone. With Stark, Introvigne co-published in 2003 Dio è tornato: indagine sulla rivincita delle religioni in Occidente (God Is Back: An Enquiry on Religious Revival in the West – Casale Monferrato: Piemme), and with Iannaccone, in 2004, Il mercato dei martiri: l’industria del terrorismo suicida (A Market for Martyrs: The Industry of Suicide Terrorism – Turin: Lindau). These books were written specifically for the Italian editions, but a part of the Introvigne-Stark study appeared in April 2005 in the first issue of the online Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion. His interests in the history of Western esotericism led him to participate in a series of academic projects on the influence of esoteric movements on modern art, including "Enchanted Modernities", "Theosophical Appropriations" and others.
In April 2013, Introvigne launched after a survey the sociological theory of the 'Francis effect'. The theory maintains that, because of the popularity of the new Pope, a certain number of lapsed Catholics who had not attended Mass for years are returning to the church. Introvigne's theory generated considerable interest in specialized and non-specialized media in several countries.
In 2016, Introvigne published a social history of Satanism, Satanism: A Social History (Leiden, Brill). The massive book was hailed by reviewers as a definitive history of modern Satanism, from the 17th to the 21st century. Leading British sociologist Eileen Barker stated in her review that Introvigne "collected most of the material that it is possible to obtain on Satanism" and combined "impressive knowledge of facts, allegations, and pure fabrications with a skilful, and oft-times playful, blending of theoretical analysis and understanding of both the foibles and the extraordinary reaches of the human imagination". Barker also noted that, quite curiously, "if we count the blank sheet at the end, the book covers 666 pages" exactly. Writing in the American Academy of Religion's Reading Religion online book reviews journal, Swedish scholar Per Faxneld placed Introvigne "among the founding fathers of the field of Satanism studies", adding that "Introvigne is not only that, of course, but also one of the major names in the study of new religions in general." While criticizing Introvigne's definition of Satanism as too narrow, Faxneld concluded that "Introvigne’s book is the best, most detailed, and broadest overview of Satanism produced thus far," and that it is "destined to become a key reference work not only in the study of Satanism but also in the broader fields of new religions and Western esotericisism"
Introvigne has also written books and articles in several languages criticizing The Da Vinci Code and the documentary on pedophile priests Sex Crimes and the Vatican. In 2006, Introvigne published a book which he considered very different from his previous production: Il dramma dell'Europa senza Cristo (The Drama of a Europe without Christ – Milan: Sugarco), where he proposed a militant criticism of secular humanism, based on the teachings of John Paul II and Benedict XVI. The book was sympathetically reviewed (although with some criticism on specific issues) by the Vatican-connected Jesuit journal La Civiltà Cattolica: In 2008, Introvigne followed with a second book in the same vein, Il segreto dell'Europa (Europe's Secret – Milan: Sugarco), intended as a study guide for the groups which had been established in several Italian cities for studying The Drama.
The collection of books on religion of CESNUR "is regarded as the largest collection in Europe and the second in the world in its field", according to its own website.
He is also the main editor of the website www.cesnur.org. He has participated in several activities of the International Society for the Sociology of Religion and the International Federation of Catholic Universities. He is also a member of the "Sociology of Religion" group of the Italian Association of Sociology.
He is also director of CESPOC, the Center for the Study of Popular Culture, an institution which hosts his large collections of dime novels and comics, and collects his articles on these subjects. Introvigne's CESPOC collection hosts inter alia the largest collection in Europe of dime novels and other materials featuring the literary character Nick Carter. In 2006, Introvigne published a bibliography of Nick Carter's Italian translations in the specialized magazine Dime Novel Round-Up (vol. 75, no. 1, February 2006, pp. 12–15). The collection has also important holdings and earlier editions of Fantômas, Zorro, Dracula, and other characters which defined the popular culture of the 20th century. In 2008, with the help of the American scholar J. Gordon Melton, Introvigne published on CESNUR's Web site a bibliography of English-language vampire comics between 1935 and 2000, which includes more than 11,000 entries and is defined as a "lifetime achievement" by the authors.
- He wrote, "The demise of the largest American anti-cult organization, the Cult Awareness Network, finally occurred because of its involvement in a violent and illegal activity, i.e. forcible deprogramming ..."
- He agreed with the view that "the great majority of members of the new religious movements derive positive experience from their membership". [ibid]
Views of his work
Anti-cult activists and scholars sympathetic to the anti-cult movement such as Thomas Gandow, Stephen Kent, as well as Benjamin Zablocki see Introvigne's framing of scholars and academics (those who agree with CESNUR) vs. anti-cult movement (those who do not agree with CESNUR regardless of their academic qualifications) as biased, not to mention the term anti-cult terrorism he coined.
On the other hand, Introvigne says that "anti-cult terrorism" has not always been a metaphorical term, pointing out that:
- "acts of terrorism in the strictest sense of the word were indeed perpetrated in France in 1996 and later. Premises of both the Unification Church and New Acropolis (a movement headquartered in Argentina) were bombed in Paris."
One of the main points which are questioned regarding Introvigne's work is his attitude regarding brainwashing and the CESNUR information he presents on that subject. Gandow refers to what he calls the "APA-Lie" (i.e. the way Introvigne presented the position of the American Psychological Association on brainwashing) as a scientific scandal. Introvigne's reply was regarded as useful even by critics (see e.g. the review by Jean-Bruno Renard in "Archives de Sciences Sociales des Religions", 52ème année, avril-juin 2007, no. 138, p. 97–99, of the book on the controversy Introvigne co-authored in French with Dick Anthony), since he went to great lengths to obtain, post on the Internet and later publish crucial and previously unavailable documents of the original U.S. brainwashing controversy.
In general, Introvigne has often crossed swords with the so called anti-cult movement. Particularly in France, after the publication of the 1997 report on cults by the French government, of which Introvigne was one of the main critics, journalists hostile to the cults called Introvigne a "cult apologist" and tried to construct his relations with the Catholic Alliance and Silvio Berlusconi's then ruling party as "right-wing extremism," a serious accusation in France. Introvigne himself answered this criticism by stressing that his scholarly and political activities were not connected.  In 2016, Introvigne left all his positions in the Catholic Alliance. Critics continue to object, however, to what they see as his defense of "cults" under the banner of religious liberty.
His Encyclopedia of Religion in Italy was one of the most reviewed books in Italy in the year of its publication and those reviews were positive for the most part. Many of the reviews came from the most important newspapers of the country.
Studies on Vampirism
Melton was the American President of The Transylvanian Society of Dracula, and Introvigne was the Italian director of the society, which included the leading academic scholars in the field of the literary and historical study of the vampire myth. The Italian and American chapters however ceased their activities with the death of the Society's founder, Romanian vampire scholar Nicolae Paduraru (1937-2009)., although the Romanian, Canadian, and Russian chapters are still active. An informative page in Italian about the society is still hosted at Introvigne's CESNUR institute for the study of new religious movements, with which Melton is actively involved. Through this page it is still possible to access the bulletins of the Society published between 2001 and 2008.
Melton and Introvigne also participated in several international conferences on vampires, including one on "Buffy, the vampire slayer", in Nashville, Tennessee in 2004. Introvigne was titled as: "president" of the Transylvanian Society in Italy, and Dr. Melton was titled as the "Count Dracula Ambassador to the U.S.". The large bibliography on vampire comics Introvigne and Melton posted on CESNUR's Web site in 2008 is discussed above, under "Work".
In 1997, J. Gordon Melton and Introvigne organized an event at the Westin Hotel in Los Angeles where 1,500 attendees came dressed as vampires for: "creative writing contest, Gothic rock music and theatrical performances" Melton came dressed as Dracula. Apart from creative dressing, the conference also included scholarly papers, including one by Introvigne on vampire scares.
- Le nuove Religioni, SugarCo (1989), ISBN 978-8871980904.
- Il cappello del mago: i nuovi movimenti magici dallo spiritismo al satanismo, SugarCo (1990), ISBN 978-8871980218.
- Il ritorno dello gnosticismo , SugarCo (1993), ISBN 88-7198-216-9.
- Les Mormons, Brepols (December 30, 1996), ISBN 2-503-50063-3.
- The Unification Church (Studies in Contemporary Religions, 2), Signature Books (September 1, 2000) ISBN 1-56085-145-7.
- Rodney Stark and Massimo Introvigne, Dio è tornato. Indagine sulla rivincita delle religioni in Occidente, Piemme (2003), ISBN 978-8838465840.
- Laurence R. Iannaccone and Massimo Introvigne, Il Mercato dei Martiri. L'industria del terrorismo suicida, Lindau (2004), ISBN 978-8871805146.
- Satanism: A Social History, Brill (2016), ISBN 978-90-04-28828-7.
- New Age is Mistaken Answer to Search For Meaning, Interview with Introvigne, Turin, Italy, March 19, 2003 (Zenit News Agency). Available online
- "The Secular Anti-Cult and the Religious Counter-Cult Movement: Strange Bedfellows or Future Enemies?" in New Religions and the New Europe, Robert Towler, ed. (Aarhus: Aarhus University Press, 1995), pp. 32–54.
- "Christian New Religious Movements: A Roman Catholic Perspective" and "New Religious Movements and the Law: A Comparison between Two Different Legal Systems – The United States and Italy," in New Religions and New Religiosity, Eileen Barker and Margit Warburg, eds., (Aarhus: Aarhus University Press, 1998), pp. 243–261 and 276–290.
- "Children of the Underground Temple: Growing Up in Damanhur," in Children in New Religions, Susan J. Palmer and Charlotte E. Hardman, eds., (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1999), pp. 138–149.
- "After the New Age: Is There a Next Age?" in New Age Religion and Globalization, Mikael Rothstein, ed., (Aarhus: Aarhus University Press, 2001), pp. 58–69.
- "Lectorium Rosicrucianum: A Dutch Movement Becomes International," in New Religions in a Postmodern World, Mikael Rothstein and Reender Kranenborg, eds., (Aarhus: Aarhus University Press, 2003), pp. 11–22.
- "Occult Masters and the Temple of Doom: The Fiery End of the Solar Temple," (co-authored with Jean-Francois Mayer) in Cults, Religion and Violence, David G. Bromley and J. Gordon Melton, eds., (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), pp. 170–188.
- Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion Editorial Board
- Massimo Introvigne
- Massimo Introvigne, I due principi di giustizia nella teoria di Rawls, Milan: Giuffré, 1983
- http://torino.unisal.it/uni/index.php/docenti/docenti-invitati/item/123-massimo-introvigne[dead link] Archived March 5, 2016, at the Wayback Machine.
- Roberto Cipriani, Nuovo manuale di sociologia della religione, 2nd ed., Rome: Borla, 2009, p. 470
- "Alleanza Cattolica – Catholic Alliance – a deepening". Archived from the original on June 1, 2016. Retrieved January 5, 2008.
- "FondazioneResPublica.org". Retrieved May 30, 2009.
- "Forza Italia Sito Nazionale – Mappa". Archived from the original on November 3, 2007. Retrieved January 5, 2008.
- http://www.alleanzapercota.org Archived June 23, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on June 21, 2012. Retrieved 2012-06-20.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on February 15, 2009. Retrieved 2008-07-28.
- Video on YouTube
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on December 13, 2014. Retrieved 2014-06-16.
- "Eileen Barker, "Book review of Satanism: A Social History." Religion and Society in Central and Eastern Europe, vol. 9, no. 1 (2016), pp. 82-84.
- “Per Faxneld, Book reviev of Satanism: A Social History.” Reading Religion: A Publication of the American Academy of Religion, March 7, 2017.
- G. Esposito, in La Civiltà Cattolica, vol. 156, n. 3763, April 7, 2007, pp. 96–97
- "About CESNUR – Cosa è il CESNUR" (in Italian). Retrieved January 5, 2008.
- name="title">"Italian Association of Sociology". Retrieved January 5, 2008.
- "CESPOC - Centro Studi sulla Popular Culture"
- name="About the CESPOC Library">"About the CESPOC Library". Archived from the original on September 29, 2007. Retrieved January 5, 2008.
- "English-Language Vampire Comics, 1935–2000". Retrieved July 25, 2008.
- "So Many Evil Things": Anti-Cult Terrorism via the Internet
- Massimo Introvigne: "So Many Evil Things": Anti-Cult Terrorism via the Internet (presented at the Association for the Sociology of Religion annual conf.), August 5, 1999
- Thomas Gandow: Die APA-Lüge – ein Wissenschaftsskandal (german), Berliner Dialog 1–98, 1998, p.27
- Massimo Introvigne: “Liar, Liar”: Brainwashing, CESNUR and APA, 1998
- "CESNUR – APA Documents on Brainwashing". Retrieved January 5, 2008.
- See for example Serge Faubert, "Le vrai visage des sectes", L'Evenement du jeudi, 4-10.11.1993, pp. 44-48; Bruno Fouchereau, “Les sectes, cheval de Troie des Etats-Unis en Europe,” Le Monde Diplomatique, May 2001, 1. For a reconstruction of the whole French controversy from a point of view quite favorable to Introvigne, see the book by the Canadian academic Susan Palmer, The New Heretics of France: Minority Religions, la Republique, and the Government-Sponsored "War on Sects", New York: Oxford University Press, 2011, ISBN 9780199735211.
- See Massimo Introvigne, "CESNUR: a short history", In: Gallagher, Eugene V, (ed.), "Cult Wars" in Historical Perspective: New and Minority Religions. Routledge. pp. 23–31. ISBN 978-1-317-15666-6.
- See "Massimo Introvigne non è più il reggente nazionale vicario di Alleanza Cattolica," La fede quotidiana, 28 April 2016, "Massimo Introvigne non è più il reggente nazionale vicario di Alleanza Cattolica". Retrieved May 22, 2017.
- See e.g. the article by Italian anti-cultist Luigi Corvaglia (who, however, ignore that Introvigne left his role in Alleanza Cattolica the previous year), "Lo strano caso dell'avvocato Introvigne", "Lo strano caso dell'avvocato Introvigne". Retrieved May 22, 2017.
- "Enciclopedia delle Religioni in Italia". Retrieved January 5, 2008.
- "Coffin Break To Vampires Everywhere, Fangs For The Memories", The Los Angeles Daily News – July 23, 1997. Carol Bidwell.
- The Board of the Transylvanian Society of Dracula, American Chapter.
- The Transylvanian Society of Dracula, CESNUR
- Buffy, the vampire slayer, (May 28–30, Nashville, TN)., CESNUR website.
Dr. Massimo Introvigne, president of the Transylvanian Society of Dracula chapter in Italy, Count Dracula Ambassador to Italy – Dr. J. Gordon Melton, Count Dracula Ambassador to the U.S.
- J. Gordon Melton dressed as Dracula Archived July 21, 2015, at the Wayback Machine., 1997, "Dracula 97 Photo Album", Melinda Hayes page.[dead link] Archived July 21, 2015, at the Wayback Machine.