An Unreal Estate

An Unreal Estate

Sustainability and Freedom in an Evolving Community
Lucinda Carspecken
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 11/03/2011
Format: Hardback 25 b&w illus.
ISBN: 978-0-253-35681-9
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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.

Author Bio

Lucinda Carspecken is Adjunct Professor in Qualitative Research Methods and Anthropology at Indiana University Bloomington.


“An in-depth look at Lothlorien, a Southern Indiana nature sanctuary, sustainable camping ground, and experiment in ecological building that has the power to be a force for social change. ”

“ 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

“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

“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

“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

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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"