Communal Studies Conferences and Grants

By January 17, 2019

Matthew J. Grow is Director of the Publications Division in the Church History Department and a general editor of the Joseph Smith Papers. He is currently President of the Communal Studies Association. 

I am excited to let the Juvenile Instructor community know about two upcoming communal studies conferences as well as two opportunities for grants and two sets of awards/paper contests.

The main scholarly organization for the study of communal groups and intentional communities—past and present—in the United States is the Communal Studies Association. CSA conferences are held annually, often at the site of a historic communal group. I have found the CSA to be a very welcoming and interesting group of scholars, and there are generally several presentations on Latter-day Saint history. For some thoughts on the connections between communal studies and Latter-day Saint history, see here.

This year’s CSA conference will be held at the Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library in Winterthur, Delaware, October 17-19, 2019. The opportunity to visit the Winterthur—a premier site for the study of early American material culture—makes this year’s conference particularly exciting. The theme for the conference is “Space, Place, and the Spirit of Material Culture.” Papers on other themes are also welcome. It would be great to have papers on Latter-day Saint material culture, architecture, history, etc. Details of the conference can be found here.

In addition, a separate scholarly organization—the International Communal Studies Association—holds conferences every three years, generally overseas. This year’s conference will be at the Camphill Communities in upstate New York, July 18-21, 2019. The theme of the conference is “Diversity and Inclusion in Intentional Communities.” You can find more information here.

The CSA also offers an annual research fellowship ($1600, applications due March 1) and several awards, including one for a starting scholar (last year, the winning article was Erik Freeman’s “‘True Christianity’: The Flowering and Fading of Mormonism and Romantic Socialism in Nineteenth-Century France,” published in the Journal of Mormon History). Finally, the Center for Communal Studies at the University of Southern Indiana has an annual prize competition for the “best undergraduate and graduate student papers on historic or contemporary communal groups, intentional communities and utopias.” The deadline is March 1 and the prizes are $250 and $500.

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