The Society of Peripheral Studies was founded in 1972 by physicist Sela Jasper and her partner Denson Goldstein, a musicologist and cinematographer.
Jasper and Goldstein spent years traveling in the Middle East studying, among many interests, Sufi mysticism.
The two stopped in Santa Fe, NM, on a research trip for Jasper’s doctoral studies, and never left. “There’s a reason so many people have been inexplicably drawn to this area of the country,” Jasper said in a 1988 interview. “Santa Fe put all of my rational, scientific beliefs to test. Here, we’ve just begun to unravel some of the greatest mysteries of the universe, aided by what I can only refer to as energy that allows us to more easily ‘pierce the veil,’ so to speak.”
Jasper and Goldstein made their home the society’s headquarters, though they have since moved their residence elsewhere in New Mexico, devoting the headquarters to the full-time efforts of peripheral study, managed now by the Peripheral Foundation. Researchers from across the globe apply for coveted residencies and fellowships. They are joined by both amateur and professional academics for a variety of research activities, salons, conferences, and other discovery initiatives.
SPS is open to any and all members. “We are an open-door institution,” Jasper said. “We all can and should question the unknown.” The Society’s mission has remained the same from its early days to now: “Push the bounds of the periphery.”