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Where Community Happens

Near, Henry

Where Community Happens

The Kibbutz and the Philosophy of Communalism

Series: Ralahine Utopian Studies - Volume 9

Year of Publication: 2011

Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Wien, 2011. XVIII, 238 pp.
ISBN 978-3-03430-133-6 pb.  (Softcover)

Weight: 0.370 kg, 0.816 lbs

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Book synopsis

In reaction to the spread of globalization, recent years have seen considerable growth in the number of intentional communities established across the world. In this collection of articles and lectures, many of them previously unpublished in English, the author analyzes various aspects of the philosophy of the kibbutz and draws parallels with other societies and philosophical trends, in the hope that a close look at the ways of thought of the kibbutz – arguably the best-established communalist society – may help other communalists crystallize their own social philosophies. Utopian thought and communal experience are brought to life through the extensive use of the voices of some of the most influential thinkers and kibbutz members of the past hundred years, including Martin Buber and David Ben Gurion.


Contents: Kibbutz – Communes – Intentional societies – Pioneering – Utopianism and post-utopianism – Social, political and educational philosophy.

About the author(s)/editor(s)

Henry Near was born in England, and has a BA and MA in philosophy and ancient history from the University of Oxford. In 1955 he emigrated to Israel, and since then has been a member of Kibbutz Beit Ha’emek in Western Galilee. After a decade of agricultural work he began an academic career with a PhD in political science and the history of Israel from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He has taught at the Hebrew University, the University of Haifa and Oranim College, and is currently an Emeritus Professor. His research and teaching have focussed mainly on the history of modern Israel, and in particular on the history and ideology of the kibbutz.


«Henry Near has spent a lifetime studying utopianism and intentional communities, with a special focus on the kibbutzim of Israel, of which he is the leading historian. This book brings together his thoughtful reflections on the kibbutzim and related topics. It will long be a benchmark in its field.» (Tim Miller, Professor of Religious Studies, University of Kansas)
«As a distinguished scholar and long-time kibbutznik, communal historian and philosopher Henry Near offers that all too rare combination of passion and balance, vision and realism. This timely book is an invaluable case study of the kibbutz in a broader, comparative perspective including Christian monasteries, Hutterite colonies, and New Age communes. It offers a goldmine of new evidence and mature wisdom, of value to historians, social scientists, humanists, and partisans of gender equality, youth empowerment, and cooperative alternatives for the twenty-first century. No student of intentional communities can afford to ignore Near’s penetrating analysis of the kibbutz as a ‘post-utopian’ society. ‘Where Community Happens’ is a must-read for students and scholars of communal utopianism.» (Michael S. Cummings, Professor of Political Science, University of Colorado, Denver)


Ralahine Utopian Studies. Vol. 9
Edited by Raffaella Baccolini, Joachim Fischer, Michael J. Griffin and Tom Moylan