Mennonites, Politics, and Peoplehood: 1525 to 1980 Paperback – Feb 15 2006
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“For some years now, the anthropologist James Urry has been regarded, in Harry Loewen’s words in the foreword to this volume, as ‘one of the most knowledgeable historians of the Russian Mennonites today.’ Urry further cements his reputation here. In Mennonites, Politics, and Peoplehood, he has pieced together a thoughtful, well organized and immensely detailed survey of the political attitudes and practices of this important Mennonite group, from their origins in early Anabaptism to their rapidly acculturating communities in contemporary Canada.” (The Mennonite Quarterly Review)
“James Urry’s new book is historical social anthropology at its best.” (Gerhard Remple American Review of Canadian Studies, Winter 2006)
About the Author
James Urry is a Reader in Anthropology at New Zealand’s Victoria University of Wellington. He is the author of None but Saints: The Transformation of Mennonite Life in Russia.
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He relates their involvement in politics and their changing attitudes about politics to the political system in which they lived (fractured principalities, city burghers, authoritarian regimes, democracies). He discusses the important role of privilegia in early modern Europe and why their importance died out. He talks about how Mennonites, with some limited success, worked with the early Soviet government, until Soviet anti-religious hatred overwhelmed their desire for using the Mennonites skills to rebuild Russia. The discussion of their involvement in Canadian politics is especially interesting because the more conservative Mennonites left Russia to move to Canada, yet within 50 years, they were not only voting but also running for office.
The story and the writing are not as sweeping or compelling as his magisterial None but Saints, but it is an interesting book none the less. It will show you how Mennonites have tried (and struggled at times) to apply Biblical principles and their beliefs to a changing world. There have been different answers over time and in different host countries and cultures.
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