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Mennonite Farmers

A Global History of Place and Sustainability

Royden Loewen

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A comparative global history of Mennonites from the ground up.

Winner of the Wallace K. Ferguson Prize by the Canadian Historical Association, Margaret McWilliams Award by the Manitoba Historical Society

Mennonite farmers can be found in dozens of countries spanning five continents. In this comparative world-scale environmental history, Royden Loewen draws on a multi-year study of seven geographically distinctive Anabaptist communities around the world, focusing on Mennonite farmers in Bolivia, Canada, Indonesia, the Netherlands, Russia, the United States, and Zimbabwe. These farmers, who…

A comparative global history of Mennonites from the ground up.

Winner of the Wallace K. Ferguson Prize by the Canadian Historical Association, Margaret McWilliams Award by the Manitoba Historical Society

Mennonite farmers can be found in dozens of countries spanning five continents. In this comparative world-scale environmental history, Royden Loewen draws on a multi-year study of seven geographically distinctive Anabaptist communities around the world, focusing on Mennonite farmers in Bolivia, Canada, Indonesia, the Netherlands, Russia, the United States, and Zimbabwe. These farmers, who include Amish, Brethren in Christ, and Siberian Baptists, till the land in starkly distinctive climates. They absorb very disparate societal lessons while being shaped by particular faith outlooks, historical memory, and the natural environment.

The book reveals the ways in which modern-day Mennonite farmers have adjusted to diverse temperatures, precipitation, soil types, and relative degrees of climate change. These farmers have faced broad global forces of modernization during the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, from commodity markets and intrusive governments to technologies marked increasingly by the mechanical, chemical, and genetic. Based on more than 150 interviews and close textual analysis of memoirs, newspapers, and sermons, the narrative follows, among others, Zandile Nyandeni of Matopo as she hoes the spring-fed soils of Matabeleland's semi-arid savannah; Vladimir Friesen of Apollonovka, Siberia, who no longer heeds the dictates of industrial time of the Soviet-era state farm; and Abram Enns of Riva Palacio, Bolivia, who tells how he, a horse-and-buggy traditionalist, hired bulldozers to clear-cut a farm in the eastern lowland forests to grow soybeans, initially leading to dust bowl conditions.

As Mennonites, Loewen writes, these farmers were raised with knowledge of the historic Anabaptist teachings on community, simplicity, and peace that stood alongside ideas on place and sustainability. Nonetheless, conditioned by gender, class, ethnicity, race, and local values, they put their agricultural ideas into practice in remarkably diverse ways. Mennonite Farmers is a pioneering work that brings faith into conversation with the land in distinctive ways.

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Mennonite Farmers

Royden Loewen

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Reviews

Reviews

An accessible entry point for readers interested in learning about places other than their own, as well as the interplays between natural resources and human cultivation.

Royden Loewen's highly engaging account compares how farmers on five continents with shared religious beliefs have differently negotiated their encounters with their environments and modernity. Both global and local, this book will be of great interest to scholars of religion, communities, agriculture, and the environment.

Wonder what a group of farmers from four corners of the globe might discuss if they all came together for a coffee hour? Royden Loewen enlightens us by addressing how culture undergirds agriculture and how belief influences the business of farming. Mennonite Farmers confirms that commitment comes at a cost but can also sustain farm fields and families alike.

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About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
352
ISBN
9781421442037
Illustration Description
17 b&w illus., 8 maps
Table of Contents

Acknowledgements
Introduction
1. Sect and Settler in the North: Plowing Friesland, Iowa, Manitoba, and Siberia
2. Peasant and Piety in the South: Planting Java, Matabeleland, and Bolivia's Oriente
3

Acknowledgements
Introduction
1. Sect and Settler in the North: Plowing Friesland, Iowa, Manitoba, and Siberia
2. Peasant and Piety in the South: Planting Java, Matabeleland, and Bolivia's Oriente
3. Something New under the Mennonite Sun: A Century of Agricultural Change
4. Making Peace on Earth: Seven Farmers and a Faith of the Everyday
5. Women on the Land: Gender and Growing Food in Patriarchal Lands
6. Farm Subjects and State Biopower: Seven Degrees of Separation
7. Vernaculars of Climate Change: Southern Concern, Northern Complacency
8. Mennonite Farmers in "World Scale" History: Seven Encounters on Earth
Conclusion
Appendices
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Author Bio
Royden Loewen
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Royden Loewen

Royden Loewen is a senior scholar at the University of Winnipeg. His books include Horse-and-Buggy Genius: Listening to Mennonites Contest the Modern World and Village among Nations: "Canadian" Mennonites in a Transnational World, 1916–2006.