Austin Buscher

Austin Buscher

PhD, Women's Studies in Religion
AREA OF RESEARCH: Modern American Religions, New Religious Movements, American Paganism

What draws you to this area of research?

I was drawn to the study of New Religious Movements and Paganism precisely because there is a dearth of academic resources available on these topics. The chance to study "new" religious traditions, which at the same time draw on some of the oldest religious movements in human history, presents an ever-shifting combination of topics to focus one's research on. While nominally my research focuses on the sociology of new religious movements, it often, by necessity, includes other aspects of the study of religion, such as secularization, gender studies, queer theology, and pagan thealogy. It is precisely the nebulous nature of this area of research that draws me to it. It is this nature that presents, I believe, all the challenges and rewards of which the academic study of religion is capable.

Would you like to collaborate?


Areas for collaboration (research studies, publishing, conference presentations, etc.)

I would be interested in collaborating in any sort of publication or conference presentation. My work is primarily field-research based, and I would be more than happy to share information with anyone working in the same sort of field.

Would you say your research is Transdisciplinary?


Gender Studies, Cultural Studies, Secularization Studies, Ethnographic/Demographic Mapping, Anthropology, Sociology.

Publications / Presentations

"Withcraft: Worldwide" Multimedia Encyclopedia of Women in Today's World. SAGE Reference, Eds. Dr. Mary Zeiss Stange and Dr. Carol K. Oyster. (forthcoming)


"Mormon Church/ Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" Ibid., forthcoming.


Presentation "Authority in alternative spiritualities: Fact or fiction?", given in Maynooth, Ireland at the Biennial Conference of the European Association of Social Anthropologists as part of a panel "Spirituality against religion: the role of gender and power" on August 26th, 2010. 

Future goals as a scholar

Publish, publish, publish, obviously. I would like, however, to become involved more in the way political ideologies are shaped by religion and the way in which politics can sometimes shape religion. Specifically, I would like to examine the way in which paganism addresses social justice issues as its community expands and encounters them. 

However, teaching is my primary passion, and I would love to find a tenured job where I can reach the next generation of students and examine, with them, the way American religion is changing.

Must-read books or articles in your field

Adler, Margot. Drawing Down the Moon. New York: Penguin Group, 1979.


Bednarowski, Mary Farrell. “The New Age Movement and Feminist Spirituality.” In Perspectives on the New Age. Eds. James R. Lewis and J. Gordon Melton. New York: State University of New York Press, 1992. 167-178.


Berger, Helen. “The Routinization of Spontaneity.” Sociology of Religion, Vol. 56, Issue 1. 49-61.


Brown, Susan Love.  “Baby Boomers, American Character, and the New Age: A Synthesis.” In Perspectives on the New Age. Eds. James R. Lewis and J. Gordon Melton. New York: State University of New York Press, 1992. 87-96.


Budapest, Zsuzsanna. Grandmother Moon. San Francisco: Harper Publishing, 1991.


Cowan, Douglas E. Cyberhenge. New York: Routledge, 2005. 


Curott, Phyllis. Book of Shadows: A Modern Woman’s Journey into the Wisdom of Witchcraft and the Magic of the Goddess. New York: Broadway Books, 1999.


Eliade, Mircea. Patterns in Comparative Religion, New York: Sheed and Ward, 1958.


---- “Some Observations on European Witchcraft.” In Occultism, Witchcraft, and Cultural Fashions: Essays in Comparative Religions. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1976.


Eller, Cynthia. “The Roots of Feminist Spirituality.” In Daughters of the Goddess. Ed. Wendy Griffin. Lanham, Maryland: AltaMira Press, 2000. 25-41.


---- “Affinities and Appropriations in Feminist Spirituality.” In Spellbound: Women and Witchcraft in America. Elizabeth Reis, ed. Wilmington, Delaware: Scholarly Resources, Inc., 1998. 221-245.


----- “Relativizing the Patriarchy: The Sacred History of the Feminist Spirituality Movement. History of Religions. Vol, 30, No. 3 (Feb., 1991). 279-295.


Ellwood, Robert. “How New is the New Age?” In Perspectives on the New Age. Eds. James R. Lewis and J. Gordon Melton. New York: State University of New York Press, 1992.


---- The Fifties Spiritual Marketplace.  New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 1997.


Farrar, Janet and Stewart. A Witches’ Bible. Custer, Washington: Phoenix Publishing, Inc., 1996.


Farrar and Bone, The Pagan Path. Custer, Washington: Phoenix Publishing, 1995.


Gimbutas, Marija. The Language of the Goddess.  San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1989.


Gross, Rita M. Feminism and Religion. Boston: Beacon Press. 1996.


Jencson, Linda. “In Whose Image? Misogynist Trends in the Construction of Goddess and Woman.” In Spellbound: Women and Witchcraft in America. Ed., Elizabeth Reis. Wilmington, Delaware: Scholarly Resources, Inc., 1998. 247 – 267.


Kelly, Aidan A.  "An Update on Neo-Pagan Witchcraft in America." In Perspectives on the New Age.  Eds. James


Lewis, R.,  Melton, J. Gordon.  New York: State University of New York Press, 1992.

Melton,  J. Gordon. "New Thought and the New Age."  In Perspectives on the New Age.  Eds. James R. Lewis and J. Gordon Melton.  New York: State University of New York Press, 1992.  15-29.

Pike, Sarah. Earthly Bodies, Magical Selves.  Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2001.  32-33.

Salomonsen, Jone. Enchanted Feminism: The Reclaiming Witches of San Francisco New York: Routledge, 2002.

Weber,  Max. The Sociology of Religion.  Trans. Ephraim Fischoff.  Boston: Beacon Press, 1963.

----.  On Charisma and Institution Building Ed. S. N. Eisenstadt.  Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1968

Helpful resources at CGU

Dorothea Viale, '10.

Karen Torjesen.

Helpful resources outside of CGU (blogs, websites, social networking sites, etc. that connect with your areas of research)