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Mennonites, Politics, and Peoplehood: Europe - Russia - Canada, 1525 to 1980 [Paperback]

James Urry

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Book Description

Feb. 15 2006
Mennonites and their forebears are usually thought to be a people with little interest or involvement in politics. Mennonites, Politics, and Peoplehood reveals that since their early history, Mennonites have, in fact, been active participants in worldly politics. From western to eastern Europe and through different migrations to North America, James Urry’s meticulous research traces Mennonite links with kingdoms, empires, republics, and democratic nations in the context of peace, war, and revolution. He stresses a degree of Mennonite involvement in politics not previously discussed in literature, including Mennonite participation in constitutional reform and party politics, and shows the polarization of their political views from conservatism to liberalism and even revolutionary activities.
    Urry looks at the Mennonite reaction to politics and political events from the Reformation onwards and focusses particularly on those people who settled in Russia and their descendants who came to Manitoba. Using a wide variety of sources, Mennonites, Politics, and Peoplehood combines an inter-disciplinary approach to reveal that Mennonites, far from being the “Quiet in the Land,” have deep roots in politics.

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“ ... demonstrates more clearly than any other work to date Mennonites’ extensive involvement in politics.” -- – T.D. Regehr, author of Mennonites in Canada, 1939 to 1970

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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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars An extensive and scholarly study of the Mennonite people and their role in history and politics May 6 2006
By Midwest Book Review - Published on
Mennonites, Politics, And Peoplehood: Europe--Russia--Canada: 1525 to 1980 by James Urry (Reader in Anthropology at New Zealand's Victoria University of Wellington) is an extensive and scholarly study of the Mennonite people and their role in history and politics. Containing previously unscripted events and facts, Mennonites, Politics, And Peoplehood reveals the activism of the Mennonites throughout history and spanning both western and eastern Europe; their migrations to North America; as well as their links between kingdoms, empires, republics, and democratic nations in the context of peace, war, and revolution. Mennonites, Politics, And Peoplehood is very highly recommended reading, both for its scholarly research and its profusely documented contribution an appreciation of the historical political activism and social involvement of the Mennonites.
4.0 out of 5 stars History of Mennonite involvement in politics May 12 2012
By Steve Fast - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
James Urry provides us with a fascinating look at Mennonite involvement in politics. His focus is on the Mennonites in the Netherlands, northern Germany, Poland/Prussia, Russia, and Canada from their origin in the 1500s to the latter part of the 20th century.

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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