Synopses & Reviews
In An Unreal Estate, Lucinda Carspecken takes an in-depth look at Lothlorien, a Southern Indiana nature sanctuary, sustainable camping ground, festival site, collective residence, and experiment in ecological building, stewardship, and organization. Carspecken notes the way fiction and reality intertwine on this piece of land and argues that examples such as Lothlorien have the power to be a force for social change. Lothlorien's organization and social norms are in sharp contrast with its surrounding communities. As a unique enclave within a larger society, it offers to the latter both an implicit critique and a cluster of alternative values and lifestyles. In addition, it has created a niche where some participants change, grow, and find empowerment in an environment that is accepting of difference--particularly in areas of religion and sexual orientation.
Anthropologist Carspecken (Indiana Univ.) offers an extraordinarily captivating and challenging book based on a year and a half of reflective research in the 109-acre intentional community of Lothlorien near Bloomington, Indiana. Integrating numerous revealing quotes from members and 26 photos, Carspecken thoroughly documents in vivid detail alternative worldviews, values, and behaviors associated with this dynamic experiment, ongoing since 1987. This book merits attention from general and academic audiences because Lothlorien contrasts dramatically with the mainstream US, thereby offering not only a penetrating critique but, far more importantly, serious alternatives for
rethinking and reforming a society plagued by many problems resulting from the widespread alienation of people from nature and from each other. Most of the residents and visitors of Lothlorien are actively committed environmentalists pursuing sustainable and green lifestyles that revere land and life as sacred. This utopian residential
community and ecumenical nonprofit organization is a sanctuary for individual freedom and creativity as well as an enchanting space for eclectic art, rituals, and festivals reflecting many religious influences, including Neo-Paganism. Collectively, members have imaginatively constructed a progressive, hopeful society based on sincerity, mutual
respect, tolerance, caring, affection, equality, and genuine democracy. Summing Up: Essential. All levels/libraries. --Choice L. E. Sponsel, emeritus, University of Hawaii, June 2012
"So much attention is paid today to national affairs that we are losing an understanding of the nature of small-scale governance. Readers of An Unreal Estate will benefit greatly from the insights of community participants in their revealing interviews about opportunities, struggles, surprises, and the wide range of meaningful events that can occur in a small intentional community. This is a book that is very worthwhile for scholars as well as citizens to buy, read, and think hard about." --Elinor Ostrom, 2009 Nobel Laureate in Economic Sciences Indiana University Press
"A significant contribution to the study of intentional communities." --Sarah M. Pike, author of New Age and Neopagan Religions in America
"This is the only study to date of a specifically neo-pagan community and therefore is a pioneering work." --Sabina Magliocco, author of Neo-Pagan Art and Altars
"This book advances knowledge... in various areas of current critical and popular debate and will be of interest to scholars... as well as to a diverse popular readership." --Graham Harvey, author of Contemporary Paganism Indiana University Press
"Anthropologist Carspecken... offers an extraordinarily captivating and challenging book based on a year and a half of reflective research in the 109-acre intentional community of Lothlorien.... Essential." --Choice
About the Author
Lucinda Carspecken is Adjunct Professor in Qualitative Research Methods and Anthropology at Indiana University Bloomington.
Table of Contents
A Note on Names
1. "That Dose of Unreality": An Introduction to Lothlorien Nature Sanctuary
2. "Dream Flowers": Fiction and Utopian Imagination in Neo-Paganism and Alternative Communities
3. Faerie and Avalon: Reimagining Nature
4. "A Loose-Knit Anarchy": Reimagining Organization
5. "The Land of Misfit Toys": Reimagining Community and Freedom
6. "Something Mystical and Fine": Reimagining Ritual and Spiritual Experience
7. "A Gypsy Community": Cycling, Learning, and Moving On
8. "A Spontaneous Social Experiment"