Stockholm university

Peter Jackson Rova

About me

I am professor and director of history of religions at the Department of Ethnology, History of Religions and Gender studies.


My research is focused on the philological study of Indo-European religions, with a special emphasis on ancient Indian and Iranian religions, the religions of ancient Greece and Rome, and Old Norse religion. I have also undertaken the daunting comparative task of exploring how recurrences in the earliest cultic and heroic poetry of ancient India, Iran, Greece, and the Germanic world may provide clues to the common past of these traditions. I believe that there is sufficient cultural data embedded in the hereditary Indo-European poetic vocabulary to invite serious anthropological and historical consideration, thus opening a window to a critical phase in Eurasian prehistory.

Against the background of my scholarly expertise, I regularly touch upon general theoretical and conceptual concerns in the study of religion, such as divination, eschatology, the rhetorical dimensions of myth and ritual, orality and literacy, philosophy and ritual speculation, and the function of ritual economies in ancient religions.

My broad interests in cultural history and the history of ideas have occasionally led me to deviate from my academic habitus, motivating research in the most various of areas, including Palaeolithic figurines, the correspondence of the brothers Grimm, the Great Seal of the United States, and black masses in 19th century Paris. I am currently cooperating with professor Norbert Oettinger from the University of Erlangen, Germany, in preparing a general survey of common linguistic traits in Indo-European religious traditions. I am also writing a book about the practical and theoretical impact of suspending mental actions, especially actions of judgement and disbelief, along a distinguishable historical trajectory.

I am a member of the research colleague of the Swedish Research Institute in Istanbul, a corresponding member of the Nathan Söderblom Society, and a working member of the Royal Gustavus Adolphus Academy.


Research projects


A selection from Stockholm University publication database

  • Philosophy and the End of Sacrifice

    2016. Peter Jackson, Anna-Pya Sjödin.

    Book (ed)

    This volume addresses the means and ends of sacrificial speculation by inviting a selected group of specialist in the fields of philosophy, history of religions, and indology to examine philosophical modes of sacrificial speculation — especially in Ancient India and Greece — and consider the commonalities of their historical raison d’être. Scholars have long observed, yet without presenting any transcultural grand theory on the matter, that sacrifice seems to end with (or even continue as) philosophy in both Ancient India and Greece. How are we to understand this important transformation that so profoundly changed the way we think of religion (and philosophy as opposed to religion) today? Some of the complex topics inviting closer examination in this regard are the interiorisation of ritual, ascetism and self-sacrifice, sacrifice and cosmogony, the figure of the philosopher-sage, transformations and technologies of the self, analogical reasoning, the philosophy of ritual, vegetarianism, and metempsychosis.

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