2016 Conference Theme: “Anticipating the End Times: Millennialism, Apocalypticism, and Utopianism in Intentional Communities”
OCTOBER 6–8, 2016
Salt Lake City, Utah.
The next conference of the Communal Studies Association will convene in Salt Lake City on October 6-8, 2016, with a theme of “Anticipating the End Times: Millennialism, Apocalypticism, and Utopianism in Intentional Communities.” The CSA does not hold conferences in the western United States very often and we hope that you’ll join us.
Mormon communalism is a topic of perennial interest at CSA conferences and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is one of the largest religious organizations with a significant communal heritage. Nevertheless, the CSA has never held a conference in Salt Lake City, the headquarters of the LDS Church.
Salt Lake City is a cosmopolitan city with an international airport a few miles west of the city and easily accessible to downtown (including by light rail). The conference hotel will be the Radisson Hotel Downtown. The conference rate is $119 per room. You can call to reserve a room at 801-531-7500. The sessions will be held at two locations just off of the LDS Church’s Temple Square: the newly renovated Church History Museum and the Church History Library. One of the conference dinners will be held in the Lion House, one of the homes for Brigham Young’s large family. Salt Lake City is home to a diverse array of restaurants and activities; the recently opened City Creek mall and surrounding complex (immediately south of the LDS Church’s Temple Square) has helped revitalize the downtown area.
A preconference tour on Wednesday, October 5, will highlight the communalism practiced by contemporary polygamists with roots in the Mormon tradition. In addition, the preconference tour will go to Welfare Square, headquarters of the LDS Church’s worldwide humanitarian efforts. On October 6, preconference events will include a behind-the-scenes tour of the Church History Museum in the morning and of Temple Square, including the Tabernacle and Brigham Young’s homes (the Lion House and the Beehive House), in the afternoon. We anticipate that conference participants will also have the option of attending all or part of a rehearsal of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
Communalism and millennialism both run deeply throughout Mormon theology and history. During the nineteenth century, Mormons made two specific attempts at practicing communal economics on a large scale. First, in the early 1830s in Missouri, Mormons practiced what they called the “Law of Consecration and Stewardship” in which they deeded their property to the church and then received management back of specific properties. These attempts at communal living suffered from both internal discord and external pressure. Nevertheless, the memory of the Missouri attempts to establish Zion left an indelible impression on nineteenth-century Latter-day Saints, including Brigham Young, who led most Mormons to Utah.
In the late 1860s and early 1870s, partly as a result of the end of Utah’s isolation with the completion of the transcontinental railroad, Young encouraged communal economics, known as the United Order of Enoch, in Mormon communities. The United Orders were generally producer cooperatives in which local Saints, after pooling their property and labor, received profits and income in proportion to what they had contributed. In a few communities, more communal United Orders prevailed, in which the Saints donated all of their resources, aimed for self-sufficiency, and shared equally in the products of their labor.
The broader American West has been home to many other communal groups driven by millennial, apocalyptic, and utopian views. While the conference tours and sessions will give insight into communalism in Mormonism and the American West, sessions will focus on many other aspects of communal studies as well
Registration information and the conference program will be posted online in early summer.
About the Communal Studies Association
The Communal Studies Association is an interdisciplinary organization for people living in intentional communities, historic site personnel and academics representing topics including history, anthropology, religious studies, sociology, political science, and others. Each year, the CSA’s annual conference is held at the site of an historic intentional community.