New Book Co-Authored by Prof. Yossi Katz Focuses on the Hutterite Communal Society
Date: 2012-08-05 Hour: 8:17
The Hutterites, the world’s longest-lasting and most successful communal society, are the subject of a new book authored by Prof. Yossi Katz, of the Bar-Ilan University Department of Geography and Environment, and Prof. John Lehr, of the University of Winnipeg.
Hutterite colonies are based on a model of governance and a set of social relationships that have served them well for almost five hundred years. Today the Hutterite colonies face an array of new challenges as a result of increasing globalization and the advent of the digital revolution. In the past the colony was an ark, isolating the community from the secular world of the host society.
Today, the colony is losing much of its ability to exclude the influences of the outside world. Increasing integration with the world economy, contact with host institutions through state and provincial regulation of agriculture, and easy access to electronic communications media all conspire to reduce the isolation of Hutterite society. This is compounded by economic pressures to move beyond agriculture as a source of income.
The new book, entitled Inside the Ark: The Hutterites in Canada and the United States (University of Regina CPRC Press), examines the historical process of change within Hutterite society and considers the ways in which the leadership has developed strategies to successfully manage it. The authors’ analysis is based on extensive fieldwork over many years with the Schmiedeleut branch of the Hutterites, who gave access to their Conference Letters and Regulations. In an extended appendix, a lightly edited version of these regulations is published for the first time in English translation. These provide invaluable insights into the Hutterites’ strategies for successfully managing change and for finding a balance between stability and vibrancy within their society.
Yossi Katz is a full professor in the Department of Geography and Environment at Bar-Ilan University. He is incumbent of the Chair for the Study of the History and Activities of the Jewish National Fund. His research focuses on the history of the Jewish settlement in the Land of Israel, Zionism, and ethnic groups' settlement process in western Canada. The author of 24 books and 140 articles, he also chairs Bar-Ilan University Press.
John C. Lehr is a professor in the Geography department at the University of Winnipeg. His research interests center on the historical geography of pioneer agricultural settlement by ethnic groups on the Canadian prairies, particularly Mormons, Jews, Hutterites and Ukrainians. He has also researched the construction of ethnic identity among young adults in Winnipeg and Paraná, Brazil.