Small Utopias: Dreaming of #anthrocommune

The essay, “Small Utopias: Dreaming of #anthrocommune,” appeared in the collaborative volume, A Day is a Struggle, edited by Eli Rose & Liz Mason-Deese. The essays in this volume were solicited, written, edited, and published over the first year-and-a-few-months of the COVID-19 pandemic. The book is, according to Rose and Mason-Deese, “a feminist anthology of writing about how precarious life is, with contributions from all around the world.”

My contribution explores my daydream of leaving it all behind and starting a communal living house for other wayward/interdisciplinary/semi-anthropologists like myself.

Excerpt from the essay:

New models for inhabiting society seem sorely needed, especially in the current moment of viral crisis. Pandemic-era conversations about who deserves extended pandemic unemployment benefits provide evidence of growing resistance to the idea that work is intrinsically better than non-work. Critiques of people going out for recreation during the current pandemic are careful to specify that those who are being criticized are not the workers who would lose their jobs if they requested to work from home, pointing to growing awareness of the need for class solidarity. Beyond the pandemic, critiques of the nudge-focused behavioral models of human behavior that drive public policy in the United States in the opening decades of the twenty-first century are spreading beyond the fringes of the political spectrum. Mere behavior, in other words, is becoming complicated in the public discourse by a more robust understanding of identity and history as factors shaping everyday life, in pandemic times and otherwise. Rather than knowing society just through the numbers and enforcing normative expectations of productivity through financial incentives, economic justice and white supremacy are becoming watchwords for how to tell true and urgent stories about society.

Against the backdrop of these disciplinary and current events, I revived my own utopian dream, #anthrocommune. Facing a second round of burnout and the end of my just-barely-started academic career late in 2018, I began to imagine my own small utopia. A dream of a place, germinated in the digital space of Twitter threads. The origins of #anthrocommune are in the network, a web of shared dreams amongst me and my colleagues geminated across the space of digital communications, a revolutionary impulse against the violent institutions we find ourselves upholding day to day in a terrain largely ignored by the powers that be. The persistent hashtag signifies an intrinsically networked dream, even in spoken language.

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