- Lucy Sargisson, University of Nottingham, UK and Lyman Tower Sargent, University of Missouri-St Louis, USA
Utopia is, literally, the good place that is no place. Utopias reveal people's dreams and desires and they may gesture towards different and better ways of being. But they are rarely considered as physical, observable phenomena.
In this book Sargisson and Sargent, both established writers on utopian theory, turn their attention to real-life utopian communities. The book is based on their fieldwork and extensive archival research in New Zealand, a country with a special place in the history of utopianism. A land of opportunity for settlers with dreams of a better life, New Zealand has, per capita, more intentional communities - groups of people who have chosen to live and sometimes work together for a common purpose - than any country in the world. Sargisson and Sargent draw on the experiences of more than fifty such communities, to offer the first academic survey of this form of living utopian experiment.
In telling the story of the New Zealand experience, Living in Utopia provides both transferable lessons in community, cooperation and social change and a unique insight into the utopianism at the heart of politics, society, and everyday life.
Contents: Introductions; Contexts: New Zealand as a Utopia; The early days: the nineteenth century; The twentieth century: Beeville, James K. Baxter and the Ohu movement; Religious and spiritual communities; Cooperative lifestyles; Environmentalist communities; Conflict and longevity; Conclusion: what have we learned? Lasting lessons from New Zealand; Appendice I: Katajuta community agreements; Appendice II: recognized forms of land ownership in New Zealand; Works cited; Index.
About the Author: Lucy Sargisson is Senior Lecturer in Politics at the University of Nottingham, and is the author of two previous books on utopianism: 'Contemporary Feminist Utopianism' (Routledge 1996) and ' Utopian Bodies and the Politics of Transgression' (Routledge 1999) as well as a number of articles.
Lyman Tower Sargent is Professor of Political Science at the University of Missouri-St Louis. He is the author or editor of several books on utopianism and political ideologies, including 'The Utopia Reader' (edited with Gregory Claeys, New York University Press 1999), as well as numerous articles. He is also Editor of the Journal of Utopian Studies.
Reviews: ‘This is the first sustained study of contemporary communes in New Zealand, a nation with a long history of utopian aspiration and speculation, and offers an account of lived experience in over fifty communes. “Living in Utopia” will be of interest to scholars of utopian thought and experience and of intentional communities throughout the world.’ Professor Gregory Claeys, Professor of the History of Political Thought, Royal Holloway, University of London, UK
‘This interesting book, dealing with extraordinary and radical experiments in communal living, makes a significant contribution to the sociology of intentional/utopian communities, cooperative living and social change. Highly recommended.’ Choice
‘Living in Utopia is a fascinating, well-argued, cogent and well told portrait of utopias in New Zealand…it is also a wonderful social history…’ British Review of New Zealand Studies
‘I found the picture painted of the wider utopian background that permeates New Zealand culture illuminating…’ Diggers and Dreamers