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Title: Commune girls : growing up in utopia? : women reflecting back on childhoods in British intentional communities, 1970-1985
Author: Rhoades, Lucy Anne
ISNI:       0000 0004 2687 4355
Awarding Body: Goldsmiths, University of London
Current Institution: Goldsmiths College (University of London)
Date of Award: 2009
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This research is underpinned by my own autobiographical process of reflection on how the culture, ideals and practices of the intentional community I lived in as a child influenced my world-view and way of 'inhabiting' my self, my life, and my relationships with others. The research uses themes of relationship and identity to patch together the memories, recollections, impressions and current ways of 'making sense' of the author and a group of 13 women of my generation (aged between 25-40) who also lived in intentional communities (communes) as children in this time frame. The research focuses on how participants and I have navigated our life narratives; childhood and family, relationships and identities, conceptual and social spaces and if/how this relates back to the experience and practices of time spent as children in the counter culture and in communes in the UK in the 1970s and early 1980s. Of particular interest to me was how participants recall they were thought about and treated as children in the purportedly egalitarian and resistant spaces of communes, their impressions of how family and relationship was thought and practiced there, how it has been for participants to cross over into more mainstream spaces and lifestyles, and how participants feel they have been shaped and affected by their childhood experiences of community. Seeing all identity as embedded in relational as well as conceptual and structural 'webs', the research seeks to explore if and how women who spent time in communes as children have witnessed/lived communes as 'new family forms.' The work enquires about the ways of conducting intimate relationship present in these spaces and how participants have responded to the vision and practices of the communes movement. The research takes particular interest in issues of power and relationship, and keeps an eye open for resistance to both hegemonic mainstream and powerful 'counter-cultural' notions of 'how to live one's life.' It explores the perceived benefits and boons, hurts and harms that participants feel their unusual experience gave them. The research asks how participants have rejected or embraced their childhood experiences at their current age and stage.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral