Sarah M. Pike

Professor of Comparative Religion and Director of the Humanities Center, California State University, Chico, USA

About Sarah M. Pike

Sarah M. Pike is Professor of Comparative Religion and Director of the Humanities Center at California State University, Chico in Chico, California, USA.

She is the author of:

  • Earthly Bodies, Magical Selves: Contemporary Pagans and The Search for Community (University of California Press, 2001)
  • New Age and Neopagan Religions in America (Columbia University Press, 2004) - named a Choice Outstanding Academic Title.

She has written numerous articles, book chapters and encyclopedia articles on contemporary Paganism, the New Age movement, the Burning Man festival, new religions in the media, environmentalism, and youth culture, including most recently “Witchcraft Since the 1960s” in The Oxford Handbook of Religion and the American News Media (Oxford University Press, 2012) and “Religion and Youth Culture” in Children and Religion: A Methods Handbook, edited by Susan B. Ridgely (New York University Press, 2011).

She has given invited lectures at the University of Tennessee, the University of Kansas, Princeton University, Indiana University, York University, University of Nevada, University of Montana, Northern Arizona University and the University of Oslo, among others, and has presented papers and keynote addresses at conferences around the United States, as well in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Morelia, Mexico, Amsterdam, Heidelberg, and Lisbon.

Dr. Pike has been actively involved in national and international professional organizations. She served on the Board of the Directors of the American Academy of Religion, the world’s largest association of religious studies scholars, from 2006-2011 and was Chair of the AAR’s Committee for the Public Understanding of Religion from 2007-2011.

She currently serves on the Board of Directors of the International Society for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture.

Summary of individual project in REDO

An Internal Revolution: Collective Ritualizing and Youth Conversion to Radical Environmentalism

This project will investigate the processes by which young Americans become committed to environmental activism through protest rituals.

What social forces shape and are shaped by youth activism? What factors make young activists willing to risk social marginalization and prison terms for civil disobedience on behalf of non-human species?

Drawing on the work of rhetorician Kevin DeLuca on animal rights protests as “image events”(1999: 56) and social theorist Judith Butler (2011) on the persistence of the body in public space, this project aims to understand the role of emotion in embodied protests and the constitution of youth identities in a social movement. The emotional content (Milton 2002) of protest rituals works to produce commitment to social change, but also at its extreme may endorse violent actions.

Drawing on interviews and correspondence with activists, as well as participant-observation at protest sites, I will investigate a spectrum of environmental protests and the kinds of cultural resources young people draw on that shape and inform adult ritual performances and thus in turn, the social spaces of protest and the constitution of the environmental movement in the United States.


Published Jan. 6, 2015 3:01 PM - Last modified Dec. 21, 2020 2:08 PM