Intentional Communities: Place-Based Articulations of Social Critique

Reinhalter, Jaya Priya
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[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [December 2014]
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The purpose of this project is to understand the processes through which intentional communities (ICs) embody and articulate critiques of society at large. To do so, I have researched two communities: one in the United States, named "Kashi", and a second in India, named "Auroville". Drawing on theories of place, space, performance, and place-making, I analyze the multi-layered ways in which these two ICs make place through the physical bounding of space, the material and ideological manifestation of place, and the daily making and re-making involved in performing place. Second, I observe the ways in which place is deployed as social critique, specifically through the lens of their two central critiques of environmental exploitation and community disintegration and inequalities. Lastly, I contemplate the role of 'self' at all levels of intentional community living. While the portrayal of both Auroville and Kashi are typically associated with their spiritual foundations, my project will deviate from these depictions. This project will ask more socially critical questions regarding their commitments to environmental sustainability and challenging community fragmentation and inequities. Primarily, the body of my research comes from field research and primary sources. Qualitative methods including one-on-one interviews, focus groups, and participant observation have been used for their ability to unpack the ideological motivations of intentional community members, offer insights into the daily making and re-making of place, and to understand the subtle complexities of a place-based social critique. Ultimately, by observing two intentional communities with stated ambitions to integrate collectivism, social equality, and environmentally sustainable design, this research will contribute to the growing body of literature exploring alternative avenues to development and human and environmental welfare. It is my hope that this study will also contribute to our understanding of the capacities of intentional communities and will speak to geographers interested in the significance of 'making-place' for the purpose of mediating social critique and transformation.
MA University of Hawaii at Manoa 2014
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 136–142).
social critique, intentional communities, community, place, place-making, performativity, Kashi, Auroville
142 leaves
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Theses for the degree of Master of Arts (University of Hawaii at Manoa). Geography.
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