Western history as the history of a utopian community: Carl Abbott, ‘Revisiting Rajneeshpuram: Oregon’s Largest Utopian Community as Western History’, Oregon Historical Quarterly, 116, 4, 2015, pp. 414-447
Abstract: Between 1981 and 1985, the intentional community of Rajneeshpuram near Antelope, Oregon, hosted up to 15,000 followers of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, a spiritual leader from Pune, India. In this essay, Carl Abbott examines the rise and fall of Rajneeshpuram within the context of western history, which “centers on the processes of migration, settlement, displacement, and rearrangement.” Drawing parallels to earlier religious closed communities, such nineteenth century Mormon settlements, Abbott describes how Rajneeshees fit into the “overarching storylines of frontier utopias and the…narrative of settler colonialism.” Unlike Mormon communities, however, Abbott concludes that Rajneeshpuram ultimately failed because its leaders were not willing to compromise community goals when faced with larger state regulatory systems.
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