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"West of Eden:
Communes and Utopia in Northern California”



California, United States

Conference Date:

2006-03-25 (Archive)

Date Submitted:


Announcement ID:


This is to cordially invite you to participate in a conference, entitled “West of Eden: Communes and Utopia in Northern California,” to be held this Spring on the University of California-Berkeley campus, hosted by the Department of Geography and the Institute of International Studies, in conjunction with the Mendocino Institute, and with the support of the Townsend Center for the Humanities and the Regional Oral History Office.
The conference will take place on Saturday, March 25th, 2006, from 8.45 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. in 223 Moses Hall, UC-Berkeley. It follows upon an earlier workshop you may have attended in December 2004 -- one of a series of events associated with the Communes Project -- that brought together communards, cooperators, and scholars to explore the histories and legacies of post-war communalism in the Bay Area and its hinterland, especially Mendocino.
The “West of Eden” conference will be oriented around three main thematic sessions, each beginning with succinct presentations by invited panelists with a view to framing a general discussion. After introductions there will be an opening address by Dr. Michael Doyle, who is an ex-communard and co-editor of _Imagine Nation: The American Counterculture of the 1960s and ‘70s_. His paper is titled “Conviviality and Perspicacity: Prospects for Research on Sixties Communitarianism.” The first panel session will then focus on the urban scene (to complement the focus at the previous workshop on the rural communes of Mendocino), with reflections by a regional geographer, a Black Panther communard, and a member of a San Francisco artists’ commune. After lunch, the second panel session will explore the lived experience of communal practice and the question of social reproduction; among the invited panelists is one of the children of Black Bear Ranch. The theme of the third session will be the legacies of ‘60s and ‘70s communalism, including reflections on geodesic domes, art practice, and technologies of the counterculture by the architectural critic Felicity Scott (UC-Irvine).
The panelists will frame discussion, stimulate memories, and open up dialogue. Please circulate this preliminary notice to others who were involved in collective and communal projects of all kinds -- political, cultural, and artistic. We by no means want to hold to very narrow definitions; we wish to invite into the mix all forms of communalism and cooperation that flourished in Northern California and beyond.
We would appreciate your forwarding to us the addresses of those to whom you extend this invitation, so that they may be notified of the final conference program as well as news of future events.
We, the organizing committee, look forward to seeing you on March 25th.
Iain Boal
Janferie Stone
Michael Watts
Cal Winslow

Iain Boal
University of California, Berkeley
Department of Geography and Institute of International Studies
215 Moses Hall #2308
Berkeley, CA 94720-2308

UCBerkeley News 5/3/2006

The Mendocino Institute
PO Box 1281
Mendocino, CA 95460
(707) 962-9213