AAA 2020 Conference CFP: Consciousness, Community, and Communitas in a Post-Covid World 

Consciousness, Community, and Communitas in a Post-Covid World 

The Coronavirus Pandemic has killed many aspects of the pre-crisis world, and we are in the liminal zone before a new world is born. Some have even spoken of this time as a rite of passage for humanity. As Victor Turner has shown us, initiation is a place of crisis and opportunity, peril and possibility. 

On the shadow side critics like Edward Snowden have warned us of the hardening of the security state driven by authorities strengthening their power in response to the crisis. Others have spoken of this time as the opportunity for fundamental and positive social change. Not everyone emerges from an initiation intact, but some return with powerful visions to help lead their community. 

Part of this transition time is the canceling of festival culture. With social distancing as the new normal, events as far ranging as Burning Man, Beloved, Symbiosis, Lightning in a Bottle, and the Oregon Country Fair have all been put on hold. Each of these events has been described as a part of the “Transformational Festival” Culture that’s sprung up along the West Coast of the United States among other areas. At these events electronic music has mixed with practices of social transformation including yoga, permaculture, Neotantric workshops, and Entheogenic lectures in service of creating  a potentially conscious and sustainable society.

In many ways these events bear a family resemblance to what Victor Turner explored in his study of Brazilian Umbanda communities. He described these communities as liminal “Space-Time” pods that offered a form Communitas sandwiched at night and on weekends between the work a day week of the default world. Here old models of being and relating were broken down by ritual practice and the guidance of elders to create new possibilities for the lives of members.

In this panel we seek to explore what we can learn from transformational festivals and communities to better navigate this liminal zone and potentially create new models of relating in a Post Covid future. What can the Liminal “space-time” pods of festival culture offer us in terms of new ways of knowing and being in a Post Pandemic world? 


To that end, we invite paper submissions to such topics including but not limited to:

  • What insight and inspiration can we leverage from festival culture in service of new community models? (e.g. grass roots building and organization at Burning Man, the 12 principles, ect.)
  • What existing examples of alternative communities can we look to in support of new community models post Crisis, and what makes them work from an Anthropological POV? (e.g Damanhur, Auroville, Ecovillages)
  • In keeping with Edward Sapir’s framework, what makes for a “Genuine”  vs. a “Spurious” culture?
  • What can we learn from other societies in terms of an adaptive response to what  Philosophical Anthropologist David Bidney called Cultural Crisis?
  • What can Anthropology say about how consciousness changing technologies in the forms of ritual, meditation, entheogens, and shamanic praxis can help create planetary resonance and group coherence in the face of cultural crisis?
  • What are the Utopic vs. Dystopic visions of a future community and what can we do to make for a better outcome? (eg. Cyberpunk vs. Solarpunk)
  • What is the shadow side of transformation and communitas and how can we deal with it?
Submit Proposals

Those interested are invited to submit proposals to Mark Shekoyan, Phd:

Follow this link for more information on the conference itself and for steps on how to officially submit your proposal abstract:

AAA Requirements

General abstract proposals must be started by May 15, 2020 and finished by May 20, 2020. The AAA is not requiring presenters to pay registration fees or other associated costs at this time. Also, this panel will likely be held virtually so that will lower (or possibly eliminate) the out of pocket expenditures as well. Please contact us ASAP for more details.