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Presentation - Yves Hivert-Messeca

ENGLISH VERSION

Source : https://yveshivertmesseca.wordpress.com/presentation/english-version/

Freemasonry, as social and cultural reality, was (and still is too often) the object of « ideological » confrontation between masons and anti-masons. But for radically opposite reasons, both camps can maintain the same myths and interpretations. The idea that Freemasonry was the deus ex machina of the French Revolution hardly favored the relevant approaches of the Masonic phenomenon. Thousands of worldwide publications and articles which are dedicated to it every year do not constitute in any way a means to effective understanding. The first university analyses, rare and fragmented, go back to the first decades of the past century, notably in Germany, Belgium, France and the United Kingdom.

The masonry has remained outside the academic or erudite research for a long time. Two main reasons can explain this exclusion. At first, over numerous decades (and sometimes even today still), a majority of mason scholars had built an analysis of the masonry, by freemasons for freemasons, an approach unlikely to become the object of academic studies. The publications of the masons, even of the anti-masons, remained most of the time in the realm of hagiography, of controversy, of description and/or of autobiography. In the second half of the XXth century, some Masonic Obediences created and/or supported research centers, reviews, museums, and often remarkable exhibitions. But these institutional initiatives do not always avoid the options and explicit or implicit perspectives of the aforementioned organisers.

One of the best examples of these initiatives is and remains the review Quatuor Coronati Jahrbuch, published by the lodge dedicated to research Quatuor Coronati nr 808, located at Bayreuth, which has now reached a very high degree of scientific requirement. Through a common publication, the Wissenschlftiche Kommission zur Erforschung der Fraumaurerei and the laboratory of the University of Innsbruck, the Internationale Forschungsstelle “Demokratische Bewegungen in Mitteleuropa” created by Helmut Reinalter (today highly skilled), it offers a sensible model of collaboration between the academic research and the masonic institution. With the reasoning, let us quote the OVN, created in 2001 in Amsterdam to help the scientific research in history or the Canonbury Masonic research Center, established in London in 1999. Unfortunately the disengagement of the Grande Loge Unie d’Angleterre put an end to the fertile activities of the Center for Research in Freemasonry and Fraternalism (University of Sheffield).

Out of this muddled up story came a second issue , which was provoked by the specialists in human sciences, especially historians who put a lot of work into a subject which came back too often, overall marginal, of little relevant and too openly polemical. To get out of this marginalisation, some researchers, in particular Daniel Ligou, theorised on the concept of masonology, tool which aimed to make of the Masonic reality a distinctive, original and specific object of studies, but which led to a dead end be it an often fertile one nevertheless.

However over the last five decades, the academic research has known an interesting development but still partially unknown and not always perennial. Among the useful university tools, let us quote in Spain the Centro de Estudios Historicos de la Masoneria Espagnola (University of Saragossa) established by professor José Antonio Ferrer Benimeli, the Instituto de Investigación sobre Liberalismo, Krausismo y Masoneria (University pontificale Comillas in Madrid), in the Netherlands, the pulpit of studies dedicated to the analysis of the freemasonry (Leyde), in Belgium, the Interdisciplinary Center of Studies and Researches on the Secularism (“Libre” University of Brussels) and its Dutch-speaking counterpart livened up by Jeffrey Tyssens, and in France, the team managed from 1996 till 2012 by the regretted Charles Porset. The cornerstone will be the release of the prosopographic dictionary in three volumes “le monde maçonnique des Lumières (Europe-Amérique & colonies)”.

The following works should also be noted: in the United States, publications by Margaret C. Jacob (UCLA, Los Angeles) et Janet M. Burke (Arizona University), in Japan the seminar on the free masonry history by Katsumi Fukusawa from the Tokyo University, in Germany the “History of international masonic relations” (Mayence University) and in France, the directions of theses, the research seminars, the study days and the symposiums organised and led by Pierre-Yves Beaurepaire (Nice University), Cécile Révauger (Bordeaux University), and Eric Saunier (Le Havre University).

In Italy, the inclusion in a general history of Italy, such as volume 21, Massoneria, managed by Gian Mario Cazzaniga, at the Giulio Einaudi publishing company (2006 ) raised the interest of the research world on the masonic fact, work launched by Aldo A. Mola and taken over by various researchers, in particular Fulvio Conti (Florence’s University), Vincenzo Ferrone (Torino’s University), Gerardo Tocchini (Venezia’s University) and Antonio Trampus (Venezia’s University).

It is also necessary to follow with a big interest the launch in 2009 of the European university review Journal for research into Freemasonry and Fraternalism, published by the British editor Equinox, published by Andreas Önnerfors, and Rob Collis, Robert Peter (University of Szeged, Hungary), editor-in-chief, joined by Cécile Révauger and Jeffrey Tyssens. In these first editions, we find the quill of the young « crème” of research on masonery.

We shall also note the publication, in the Freemasonry collection, managed by Pierre-Yves Beaurepaire and Fulvio Conti at the Garnier Classics of the Masonic Studies series, the first volume of which covers fifteen of the twenty two communications presented during the international symposium in Nice, Broadcastings and circulation of masonic practices in Europe and in the Mediterranean XVIII-XX centuries (July 2-3rd, 2009).

After forty three years of teaching, four decades of research, I was looking to join, with my modest means, this big scheme, hoping that this small blog will bring a humble stone to this noble build.

Generos animos labor nutrit.

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