Intentional Community

An Anthropological Perspective

Edited by Susan Love Brown

Subjects: American Studies
Series: SUNY series in Anthropological Studies of Contemporary Issues
Paperback : 9780791452226, 198 pages, December 2001
Hardcover : 9780791452219, 198 pages, December 2001

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Table of contents


1. Introduction
Susan Love Brown

2. Liminality, Communitas, Charisma, and Community
Lucy Jayne Kamau

3. In Search of Truth: Maintaining Communitas in a Religious Community
Gretchen Siegler

4. Between Two Worlds: Community, Liminality, and the Development of Alternative Marriage Systems
Lawrence Foster

5. The Borderlands of Community: Refugee Camps, Intentional Communities, and Liminality Matthew Renfro-Sargent

6. The Mob at Enfield: Community, Gender, and Violence against the Shakers
Elizabeth A. De Wolfe

7. Coming Together and Breaking Apart: Sociogenesis and Schismogenesis in Intentional Communities
Jonathan G. Andelson

8. Community as Cultural Critique
Susan Love Brown



Uses classical anthropological theory to understand “intentional communities” in the United States.


Although anthropologists have studied intentional communities in the past, they have seldom exerted a concerted effort to evaluate the intentional community in terms of the anthropological language of cultural change. Drawing from the work of Victor Turner, Gregory Bateson, and Anthony F. C. Wallace, Intentional Community examines historic and contemporary intentional communities within the United States, leading to a better understanding of these communities, the larger nation-state of which they are a part, and the ways in which the two interact. Applying classical anthropological theory to elements of western society, the contributors discuss how the individuals function; the ways in which these communities come into being and disappear; the various forms these communities take; how their members reinterpret features of the larger culture; and the ways in which outsiders relate to people within them.

Susan Love Brown is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Florida Atlantic University.


"Makes a significant contribution, especially to the study of intentional communities, by bringing to bear on them insights honed in observation of foreign cultures. To apply these theories to communal societies [in the United States], both past and present, marks an important step forward. " — Donald F. Durnbaugh, Juniata College