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Plain Diversity

Hardback
, 256 pages

24 b&w photos, 8 maps, 7 figures

ISBN:
9780801886058
May 2007
$51.00

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Plain Diversity

Amish Cultures and Identities

Plain and simple. American popular culture has embraced a singular image of Amish culture that is immune to the complexities of the modern world: one-room school houses, horses and buggies, sound and simple morals, and unfaltering faith. But these stereotypes dangerously oversimplify a rich and diverse culture.

In fact, contemporary Amish settlements represent a mosaic of practice and conviction. In the first book to describe the complexity of Amish cultural identity, Steven M. Nolt and Thomas J. Meyers explore the interaction of migration history, church discipline, and ethnicity in the community life of nineteen Amish settlements in Indiana. Their extensive field research reveals the factors that influence the distinct and differing Amish identities found in each settlement and how those factors relate to the broad spectrum of Amish settlements throughout North America.

Nolt and Meyers find Amish children who attend public schools, Amish household heads who work at luxury mobile home factories, and Amish women who prefer a Wal-Mart shopping cart to a quilting frame. Challenging the plain and simple view of Amish identity, this study raises the intriguing question of how such a diverse people successfully share a common identity in the absence of uniformity.

Steven M. Nolt is an associate professor of history at Goshen College. Thomas J. Meyers is a professor of sociology at Goshen College.

"A well-written, thoughtful, and insightful analysis, superbly rooted in the extant scholarly literature, which offers a useful contribution to a field that is attracting increased academic interest."

"This is an informative book for anyone interested in our Amish spiritual relatives, fellow heirs of the Anabaptist heritage."

"A helpful frame work... Recommended. Upper-Divison undergraduates and above."

"Accessible to those new to the study of the Amish but challenging for those engaged in the on-going study of Anabaptist cultures, Plain Diversity: Amish Cultures and Identities is a welcome and important contribution to the study of Old Order communities, and the insights it offers will add much to the more general discussion of the construction of cultural identity."

" Plain Diversity is a vital and valuable contribution to our understanding of the Old Order Amish."

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