From the 1930s to the 1980s, the North American countryside faced a profound cultural transformation in which a once-unified rural society became fragmented and dispersed. Families wishing to remain on the farm were required to accept new levels of automation, while others, unwilling or unable to make the change, migrated to nearby towns or regional cities. The cultural reformulation that resulted saw the emergence of a genuine rural diaspora. The growing cultural and physical separation was especially true for close-knit, ethno-religious communities, Mennonites, in particular. Forced into regional cities, the kaleidoscopic urban culture further fragmented the Mennonites into disparate social entities.
In Diaspora in the Countryside, the phenomena of rural fragmentation is examined by comparing and contrasting two closely-related but distinctive Dutch-Russian Mennonite communities located in different parts of the continent: Kansas and Manitoba, respectively. By systematically comparing these communities, two distinctive responses to the mid-twentieth century 'Great Disjuncture' are made apparent. Royden Loewen also contrasts the cultural changes of these farm families to the cultures their kin adopted in nearby towns and cities. Loewen charts not only the dispersion of two rural communities, but follows their former residents as they reformulate their lives in new settings.
About the author
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.
A very useful book that will be of interest to rural and agricultural historians as well as social and religious historians, both in United states and Canada Loewen has done a fine job.
Pamela Riney-Kehrberg, <em>Histoire sociale</em>, vol41:81:08
Other titles by Royden Loewen
A Global History of Place and Sustainability
Listening to Mennonites Contest the Modern World
Young, Well-Educated, and Adaptable
Chilean Exiles in Ontario and Quebec, 1973-2010
Village Among Nations
"Canadian" Mennonites in a Transnational World, 1916-2006
Immigrants in Prairie Cities
Ethnic Diversity in Twentieth-Century Canada
Revisiting the Mennonite Migrants of the 1870s
From the Inside Out
The Rural Worlds of Mennonite Diarists
Family, Church, and Market
A Mennonite Community in the Old and the New Worlds, 1850-1930