This volume challenges received images of Old Colony Mennonites as ‘living in the past' or perfect examples of community. Through the concept of the ‘imagination of the future’ this book presents an analysis of their historical transformations as the result of attempting to apply in practice their Christian ideals of building a community of believers in the world, while remaining separate from it. It argues that while they contributed to the territorialisation of the states that hosted them through their migrations from sixteenth-century Europe to late twentieth-century Latin America, they systematically rejected being incorporated into the nation through the building of a community of agricultural settlements that maintain ties across international borders. It explores how these imaginations are maintained and transformed through the analysis of schisms, conflict, and border management, together with a biographical approach to conversion narratives, and the religious experience.
Lorenzo Cañás Bottos, Ph.D. (2004) in Social Anthropology, University of Manchester, is Professor of Social and Cultural Anthropology at Tallinn University. He has done research and published on the Irish border area and on Old Colony Mennonites in Argentina and Bolivia, including Christenvolk: Historia y Etnografía de una Colonia Menonita (Antropofagia, 2005) and (as co-editor) Political Transformation and National Identity Change (Routledge, 2007).
Those interested on the interface of politics and religion, nationalisms, state building, intrareligious conflict, Mennonites, Anabaptist and utopian groups, as well as Latin Americanists, anthropologists, and historians of religion.