History 12 Reading Guide

Visionary Communities:  1980s

  • Frances Fitzgerald, Cities on a Hill (1986), "Rajneeshpuram," 247-381.
    (If you have time, skim "Introduction," 1-24, "Starting Over," 383-414.)

Further reading:

  • Louis C. Androes, "The Rajneesh Experience, A Report," Communal Societies 6 (1986), 101-117.


  • What perspectives does Frances Fitzgerald bring to her study of Rajneeshpuram?  What kind of experience did she have with and in the community?  (Recall our consideration of these questions with regard to Charles Nordhoff.)
  • How does Fitzgerald organize her account?  How transparent is the structure of her essay?
  • What familiar themes and issues about communal societies emerge in Fitzgerald's account of Rajneeshpuram?  What is new and/or different?
  • According to Fitzgerald, how did Bhagwan's spiritual teachings and method and his communal vision evolve from the ashram in Poona to the "new commune" of Rajneeshpuram in Oregon?
  • How did Rajneeshpuram work as an economic enterprise?
  • What drew the members to Rajneeshpuram?  What was the basis of Bhagwan's appeal to westerners?
  • Why was the relationship between the "commune" and the outside world always at the center of Rajneeshpuram?
  • Why was "the community"' so controversial, so provoking? What did they argue, and what did Fitzgerald conclude?
  • Was the decline inevitable?  What does this community suggest about the late twentieth century impulse toward dystopia?