The Eighth International Communal Studies Conference
International Communal Studies Association
The Amana Colonies, Iowa, USA
June 28 - 30, 2004
Pre-conference tour June 26-27, 2004
Our Eighth Conference will be held at the historic Amana Colonies in Iowa, the heartland of the United States. We will help Amana celebrate the sesquicentennial of the colonies' settlement in their current location in 1854. The theme of our conference is "The Communitarian Vision" The Amana Colonies emerged from Pietism, a Christian reform movement that sought to inject passion into what its adherents regarded as the cold and lifeless official churches of parts of Europe. One group of Pietists further espoused "inspirationism," the claim that certain living individuals could receive direct inspiration from the Holy Spirit. In 1714 a group of these believers formed the Community of True Inspiration in Germany under the leadership of Eberhard Gruber and Johann Rock, the latter a "Werkzeug," or inspired prophet. More than a century later a new Werkzeug, Christian Metz, arose among the inspirationists. Their faith had never been popular with the public authorities, and, to escape more conflict at a particularly difficult time, Metz led the group to America. They settled near Buffalo, New York, in 1843 an 1844 in a communal settlement they called "Ebenezer." New problems soon arose at Ebenezer, however, and in 1854 the group purchased a large tract of land in Iowa, where seven communal villages were soon established. Agriculture and industries were built up, forming the base for an extended period of communal prosperity. Today the best-known of the Amana industries is its large factory that manufactures refrigerators, air conditioners, microwave ovens, and other appliances. Social and economic problems led to the end of the fully communal economy at Amana in 1932. Much of the Amana tradition continues, however. The distinctive church still functions. The Amana Society continues to own a large tract of farmland and several businesses. A million visitors a year now enjoy the community's traditions, architecture, and friendly people. Our conference will take place over three days in the heart of the Amana Colonies. A two-day tour of historic and contemporary communal sites will be held just before the opening of the conference. Information about conference and tour registration will be published in the ICSA Bulletin and posted on the ICSA and conference websites (www.communalstudies.info/icsa.shtml, www.ic.org/icsa and www.antenna.nl/icsa). Local arrangements will be handled by Lanny Haldy and staff members and volunteers with the Amana Heritage Society, who may be contacted at .
Prof. Tim Miller, Outgoing ICSA President, reports on the ICSA Amana Conference
The International Communal Studies Association held its eighth triennial international conference in June 2004 at the Amana Colonies, Iowa, USA. A fine program, coordinated by Elizabeth De Wolfe, smooth-running local arrangements handled by Lanny Haldy and his staff and volunteers at the Amana Heritage Society, and website and technical support from Gina Walker, Peter Forster and others provided the approximately seventy-five persons attending with an abundance of information and conviviality.
The conference was preceded by a two-day tour that visited five present and historic communal sites: Maharishi Vedic City in Fairfield, Iowa; Nauvoo, Illinois; Bethel, Missouri, Sandhill Farm, Missouri and Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage, Missouri. A highlight of the tour was a visit to Lillian Snyder's home and her Icarian history collections in Nauvoo, complete with an extensive spread of snacks from Sheila Owens.
This conference marked the retirement of Yaacov Oved, the cofounder of the ICSA who has been its executive director from the beginning. Yaacov gave a plenary lecture outlining the history of communal networks and international dimensions in the study of intentional communities and as a token of its appreciation the association presented him with a copy of the new Encyclopaedia of Community, kindly provided by the Berkshire Publishing Group and Sage Publications. The Encyclopaedia will be placed in the library of the kibbutz research center at Yad Tabenkin, Israel.
The Communal Studies Association took the opportunity of Yaacov's U.S. visit to present him with its Donald E. Pitzer Distinguished Service Award for 2004, to honor him for his work to further the study of communalism.
Dennis Hardy of England was elected the new president of ICSA and will oversee arrangements for the next conference in 2007.