Briel Kobak @ USL

“Heaven on Earth in America”
Briel Kobak | PhD Candidate, Department of Anthropology
Discussant: Alex Blanchette | Associate Professor
Anthropology & Environmental Studies, Tufts University
Wednesday, March 2, 4:30pm – 6:00pm CST
Location: Zoom
To receive a copy of the pre-circulated paper or for the zoom link, please email 
Paper Abstract: This chapter is a draft of the Introduction for my dissertation, Heaven on Earth in America. The dissertation itself is centered around the question: what constitutes an historic transformation in a town where so many have predicted either the end of the world or its radical new beginning? New Harmony has hosted not just one but three Utopian projects between 1814 and the mid twentieth century, which range from preparations for a Second Coming to a contemporary effort to act as a modern sanctuary. Despite outward appearances of peace and quiet and tranquility, this project charts the various fears, anxieties, and animosities that residents express in the time of my fieldwork between 2015 and 2020. Though there is no clear prophecy as to the end of times in the present, particular grievances as to the cost of maintaining infrastructure, the wealth of future generations, and the lack of appreciation for its particular version of United States history are telling manifestations of white middle class anxiety in a stage of liberalism variably described as late, ruinous, or failed.

*This convening is open to all invitees regardless of vaccination status and, because of ongoing health risks to the unvaccinated, those who are unvaccinated are expected to adopt the risk mitigation measures advised by public health officials (masking and social distancing, etc.). Public convening may not be safe for all and carries a risk for contracting COVID-19, particularly for those unvaccinated. Participants will not know the vaccination status of others, including venue staff, and should follow appropriate risk mitigation measures.

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