1st Edition

Contemporary Pagan Community in Minnesota's Twin Cities

ISBN 9781409442837
Published April 17, 2014 by Routledge
160 Pages

USD $160.00

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Book Description

Paganistan - a moniker adapted by the Twin Cities Contemporary Pagan community - is the title of a history and ethnography of a regionally unique, urban, and vibrant community in Minnesota. The story of the community traces the formation of some of the earliest organizations and churches in the US, the influence of publication houses and bookstores, the marketplace, and the local University, on the growth and sustenance of a distinct Pagan community identity, as well as discussions of the patterns of diversifying and cohesion that occur as a result of societal pressure, politics, and generational growth within it. As the first ever study of this long-lived community, this book sets out to document Paganistan as another aspect of the increasing prevalence of Paganism in the US and contributes to the discussion of the formation of new American religious communities. Revealing how canonical theories about community formation in anthropology do not always fit comfortably nor accurately describe how a vibrant Pagan community creates and sustains itself, this book will be of interest to scholars of religion and new religious movements worldwide, and offers a valuable contribution to discussions within both urban anthropology and sociology.

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction: welcome to Paganistan; A pilgrim in Paganistan: position and politics; The emergence of Paganistan: history and lore; Fire, ice and wild rice: Paganistan’s innovations and reconstructions; Repelling vampires and pink fluffy bunnies: issues of identity, boundaries and community cohesion in Paganistan; Minnehaha faeries, Mississippi mermaids and meddling elders: cultural transmission and the ritual year in Paganistan; Welcome to Paganistan 2009: emerging events and avenues; Afterword: after exile and return: Paganistan 2013; Bibliography; Index.

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Murphy Pizza is an anthropologist specializing in religious studies, visual culture, and ethnic studies. She received her doctorate in anthropology from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2009, and currently teaches courses in liberal arts and sciences at MCAD, St. Catherine University, and Minnesota School of Business. She co-edited The Brill Handbook of Contemporary Paganism (2009) with James R. Lewis, and has contributed to many other book and journal publications in the fields of New Religions and Contemporary Paganism. She lives and works in the Twin Cities.


"...a valuable study of contemporary religious life in America. It raises important questions about the consumerist pressures that also pose threats of disintegration to traditional Christian churches."

- John Bolt, Church and Mission

"From the first evocative vignette of a meeting of diverse kinds of Pagans to the final reflections on the current state of the garden, Murphy Pizza’s discussion of Paganism in the Twin Cities (Saint Paul and Minneapolis) is eloquent and insightful. Whether Paganistan is unique or not may be debated, but certainly this book provides a fascinating development in the study of contemporary Paganism. It builds on engagement with one ever shifting experiment in late-modern community-building to provide a scholarly assessment that ought to inspire further research about other places and religions."

- Graham Harvey, The Open University, UK and co-editor of Researching Paganism

"Murphy Pizza is a sensitive guide to the complex fluxes and flows of this diverse urban Pagan community. Her book has much to teach us about the improvisational creativity and particularities of place that shape contemporary Paganism as a spiritual identity as well as a public religion."

- Sarah Pike, California State University, Chico, USA

"Paganistan packs some very interesting and important material ... it is a worthy contribution to the literature on Paganism, new religious movements, and religion in the widest sense."

- Anthropology Review Database

"This sociological study is a welcome addition to the continual examination of the religiously unique tapestry of Minneapolis-St. Paul, a great northern city that has given rise to innovative new religious movements ... It is no surprise that a diverse neo-pan-Pagan group (which includes Wicca, Heathenry, Ásatrú, Druids, etc.) that finds common ground in Paganistan should emerge and flourish in this region as well."

- Catholic Books Review

"[Paganistan] is a strong piece of ethnography that can serve as a model for anthropology students seeking to ground the observational-participatory in current theory. Moreover, the text can serve as comparative material for future researchers."

- Nova Religio