Mennonites, Politics, and Peoplehood

1525 to 1980

James Urry (Author)


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.


“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.