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Imagining “The Good Reality”: Communities of Healing in Two Works of Utopian Fiction

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What role does community have in imagining and producing good realities: realities good for all living beings, productive of hope, and capable of nurturing human capacities? Are there ways of living that could heal past violence without involving further violence to bring them into being? What might a harmonious yet diverse community look like? How might apparently individual and passive activities such as dreaming and meditating help to create and sustain such realities? How does a just society deal with conflict and build consensus? We address these questions by comparing two novels: Dorothy Bryant's The Kin of Ata are Waiting for You and Starhawk's The Fifth Sacred Thing. Both loosely express an eco-feminist sensibility. In both, non-hierarchical societies serve as stewards of nature and its resources rather than as dominating or exploitative powers. Each community grounds itself in values and practices historically deemed feminine, particularly evidenced in attitudes towards reason and coercion. In each book, humans produce nature-cultures through careful practices of self-making involving close attention to transcendent messages. Finally, both novelists imagine their communities as marginalized by and at risk from the larger world. In the end, however, they not only survive threats but even transform those most resistant to their values.

Keywords: Community; Consciousness; Ecology; Feminism; Healing; Non‐violence

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2005-09-01

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