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Erik Östling

About me

I work as an Administrative Director of Studies at the Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender Studies. If you need to contact the Administrative Directors of Studies at the department you can reach us both at 


A selection from Stockholm University publication database

  • ‘The wrath of God on children of disobedience’

    2021. Erik A. W. Östling. Approaching Religion 11 (2), 82-97


    The arrival of pandemic diseases (of which COVID-19 is the latest, but not likely to be the last) could be understood, along with impending ecological disaster and global warming, to be the major existential threats envisioned by, and facing, our contemporary culture. This article focuses on the use made of the theme of COVID-19 in the theology and ideology of the Westboro Baptist Church – a Calvinist and Primitive Baptist church founded in Topeka, Kansas in the 1950s by Fred Phelps Sr (1929–2014). While numerically small, the church has become infamous through its practice of picketing funerals, and has been characterized as a hate group espousing antisemitic and anti-LGBTQ positions. Through a reading and analysis of sermons and other published materials from the Westboro Baptist Church, the article maps the motif of COVID-19 as it is used by a church whose members perceive themselves as the heralds of an angry God.

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  • 'I Figured That in My Dreams, I Remembered What Actually Happened'

    2021. Erik A. W. Östling. Handbook of UFO Religions, 197-232


    During the latter half of the twentieth century, a narrative tradition around purported abductions by the hands of extraterrestrial entities has emerged. Narratives detailing such events were originally made famous by the purported capture of Betty and Barney Hill on September 19, 1961, and has become more and more prominent within both ufology and general mass marketed popular culture. Recurringly, alien abductions include motif relating to sexuality and interspecies hybridization, and further place humanity in relation to a perceived non-human and superior other. As such, these narratives have often been compared to historical examples of beliefs around supernatural assault or capture. The present essay investigates this narrative tradition from a folkloric perspective, looking upon the development of alien abductions, and the narrative function of first-person memorates. Ultimately, the essay argues that abductions can be read as a contemporary legendry or mythology.

    Read more about 'I Figured That in My Dreams, I Remembered What Actually Happened'

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