Attempting a Post-Colonial Utopia: An Essayistic Exploration of Auroville

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Auroville is a township of 2,000 residents, located in the formerly French colonial territory of Puducherry, India. Its citizens hail from forty nations and collectively aspire to transcend differences of race, gender, class, religion and politics by creating a society dedicated to human unity and environmental sustainability. While credited with pioneering achievements in education, women’s and caste rights, and progressive environmental practices, allegations of racism and exploitation raise questions concerning the viability of Auroville’s efforts at utopianism. As the most populous intentional community in the world— and arguably the most internationally recognized and financially supported— it is an important micro-society to examine as a potential model and “living laboratory” for overcoming specific challenges facing other intentional communities around the world. Auroville likely holds a number of innovative solutions, as well as flaws to learn from, as intentional communities and urban townships work towards the urgent goals of environmental health and social justice. My research will culminate in a collection of interlinked essays exploring themes of citizenship, oppression, decolonization, the persistence of racism, as well as Auroville’s strides towards community, fraternity, and local and global change.

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