Tune in Thursday at 4:00 pm Central – just click on the media player in the top right corner of the screen. Do you have a question or two for Erik or Karen? Leave those on the segment post!

Both my son and daughter have recently graduated, one from college and one from high school. On to the next stage of life. 🙂 So in the midst of all this crazy activity, Erik Wesner has (once again) agreed to guest host for me while I’m away. Be sure to tune in on Thursday as he interviews author, Karen M. Johnson-Weiner. She is a linguistics professor and studies Amish and Mennonite cultures and communities. Sounds like a FASCINATING woman!

About Karen: Karen M. Johnson-Weiner is a Professor and Chair of the Department of Anthropology at SUNY Potsdam, where she teaches courses in linguistic anthropology. She holds a PhD in linguistics from McGill University and has been studying patterns of language use and cultural maintenance in Amish and Mennonite communities for over 25 years. Her research has been supported by a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities and grants from NEH, the Spencer Foundation and the SUNY Potsdam Research and Creative Endeavors Program. Her first book, Train up a Child: Old Order Amish and Mennonite Schools, was published by the Johns Hopkins University Press (2007), and her second, New York Amish: Life in the Plain Communities of the Empire State, was published this spring by Cornell University Press. She has also authored a number of articles on Old Order language, culture, and education. Currently Dr. Johnson-Weiner is working with Dr. Donald B. Kraybill (Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies, Elizabethtown College) and Dr. Steven Nolt (Department of History, Goshen College) on a study of the Amish in the 20th century, which has been supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the NEH We the People Initiative, and the Kauffman Foundation.

About Karen’s book:

In a book that highlights the existence and diversity of Amish communities in New York State, Karen M. Johnson-Weiner draws on twenty-five years of observation, participation, interviews, and archival research to emphasize the contribution of the Amish to the state’s rich cultural heritage. While the Amish settlements in Pennsylvania and Ohio are internationally known, the Amish population in New York, the result of internal migration from those more established settlements, is more fragmentary and less visible to all but their nearest non-Amish neighbors. All of the Amish currently living in New York are post–World War II migrants from points to the south and west. Many came seeking cheap land, others as a result of schism in their home communities. The Old Order Amish of New York are relative newcomers who, while representing an old or plain way of life, are bringing change to the state.

So that readers can better understand where the Amish come from and their relationship to other Christian groups, New York Amish traces the origins of the Amish in the religious confrontation and political upheaval of the Protestant Reformation and describes contemporary Amish lifestyles and religious practices. Johnson-Weiner welcomes readers into the lives of Amish families in different regions of New York State, including the oldest New York Amish community, the settlement in the Conewango Valley, and the diverse settlements of the Mohawk Valley and the St. Lawrence River Valley. The congregations in these regions range from the most conservative to the most progressive. Johnson-Weiner reveals how the Amish in particular regions of New York realize their core values in different ways; these variations shape not only their adjustment to new environments but also the ways in which townships and counties accommodate—and often benefit from—the presence of these thriving faith communities.

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