This article assumes that there is a relationship between the sociocultural structures of a culture and the built form it creates and examines some intersections between the two at the Bethel Colony, a nineteenth-century Bible Communist utopian settlement. First, Bethel's history is traced. Next, five elements of its culture are examined: religious beliefs, ethnic origins, political structure, attitude toward the nuclear family, and economic organization. In the third section, the history of Bethel's built form is reconstructed. Finally, the impact of the cultural elements on the architecture and site planning of Bethel are explored. While ethnic origin and political structure can be shown to have affected the built form, this article argues that it is economic organization that had the most profound impact. Bethel's unique economic combination of the communal and the individual, expressed in ways such as the communalization of traditionally male work while traditionally female work remained individualized, is reflected in its built form at all levels from architectural detail to site planning.
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Research Article| March 01 2017
The Bethel Colony: Intersections of Culture and Built Form in a Bible Communist Utopia
Janet R. White
Janet R. White
JANET R. WHITE is an assistant professor in the School of Architecture at the University of Nevada–Las Vegas. Her work focuses on the intersection of architecture and culture in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century utopian communities. She has published articles on the Oneida Community, the Ephrata Community, and the Bishop Hill community.
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Utopian Studies (2017) 28 (1): 1–44.
Janet R. White; The Bethel Colony: Intersections of Culture and Built Form in a Bible Communist Utopia. Utopian Studies 1 March 2017; 28 (1): 1–44. doi: https://doi.org/10.5325/utopianstudies.28.1.0001
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