Ioan Petru Culianu or Couliano (5 January 1950 – 21 May 1991) was a Romanian historian of religion, culture, and ideas, a philosopher and political essayist, and a short story writer.
He served as professor of the history of religions at the University of Chicago from 1988 to his death, and had previously taught the history of Romanian culture at the University of Groningen.
An expert in gnosticism and Renaissance magic, he was encouraged and befriended by Mircea Eliade, though he gradually distanced himself from his mentor.
Culianu published seminal work on the interrelation of the occult, Eros, magic, physics, and history.Culianu was murdered in 1991.
It has been much speculated his murder was in consequence of his critical view of Romanian national politics.
Some factions of the Romanian political right openly celebrated his murder.
The Romanian Securitate, which he once lambasted as a force "of epochal stupidity", has also been suspected of involvement and of using puppet fronts on the right as cover.