Enacting experimental alternative spaces

Francesca Fois

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This paper analyses the experimental nature of alternative spaces and the affective, emotional and embodied experience their enactment generates. In so doing, it grounds the analysis on the intentional community of Damanhur (Italy), as an example of experimental spaces. Scholarship concerning intentional communities draws on utopian studies that consider them as utopian laboratories. More recently, non‐representational approaches have emphasised the processual nature of utopias, yet studies have overlooked the experimental nature of these alternative spaces. Drawing upon in‐depth ethnographic data, this paper engages with community experimentations that took place in Damanhur for residents and visitors. It illustrates how utopian enactment is experimental and thus, disordering, unsettling and creative. Moreover, I argue that experimentations are not limited to unsettling the social structure of the community and, when studying the enactment of alternative spaces, emphasis should also be on their capacity to affect the individual
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-128
Number of pages22
Issue number1
Early online date05 Aug 2018
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jan 2019


  • Damanhur
  • alternative spaces
  • everyday practices
  • experiments
  • intentional communities
  • utopianism


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