Friday, June 7
Session Abstracts and Descriptions
Amish Values and Sustainability
In order to find “rooted” values that may stimulate a lower environmental impact and more sustainability in Western society, I studied long-existing communities, including the Amish and the Hutterites. This paper compares Amish values with Hutterite values, particular their views on communal life, shared property, and soberness.
The most promising Amish values for sustainability are their small-scale community life, uniformity, and the values of moderation, soberness, and modesty. Amish churches have consciously and cautiously limited themselves in order to preserve their community, in which church and family life are tightly interwoven. This Amish worldview has produced a lower impact on the environment and a relatively low rate of consumption.
The process of reflective change (an on-going internal evaluation of innovations) helps Amish people to further advance economic viability, while preserving their values and quality of life. Amish people do not oppose technological innovation, but they put human quality of life before modernization as such and over accumulation of wealth. They can, in some ways, be seen as modern in their ability to reject or modify developments and technologies that might affect their quality of life. Although environmental care and biodiversity are not specific values for most Amish, their worldview does offer many promising benefits for ecological sustainability. I conclude by exploring how these values and the principle of reflexive change offer promising examples regarding sustainability in a broader context.
Martine Vonk is a lecturer in ethics and technology at Saxion University Deventer and also does research and consulting work on environmental projects. She received her doctorate from the Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM) and the Blaise Pascal Institute of Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam.
Plain Alternative: An Innovative Organic Farming Cooperative
Matt Mariola and David McConnell
In this paper we examine the creation and development of an Amish organic farming cooperative in northeastern Ohio within the context of a proliferation of alternative farming operations and marketing schemes across contemporary agriculture. The adoption of certified organic among this group of farmers was a pragmatic decision stemming from a growing concern over the loss of an agrarian heritage. This project required a careful balance between technological and market innovations on the one hand and cultural traditions on the other. We conducted ethnographic fieldwork from 2010 through 2012 within the Holmes County settlement, including observations and interviews with board members, staff, growers, and buyers for Green Field Farms, an organic farmers cooperative formed in 2003. We identify four main challenges the cooperative had to overcome: 1) the need to impose bureaucratic structure on the cooperative, 2) the need to standardize farming processes and products across many farms, 3) the challenge of maintaining economic viability in a competitive marketplace, and 4) the difficulty of getting farmers from very conservative Amish affiliations to embrace an alternative form of farming. Our study highlights how deeply rooted Amish values can adapt to a shifting agricultural landscape and also offers some specific institutional strategies for a wider agricultural audience.
Matt Mariola is a visiting assistant professor in environmental entrepreneurship at the College of Wooster in Wooster, Ohio. David McConnell is a professor of anthropology at the College of Wooster and coauthor of An Amish Paradox.
Amish Dedication to Farming and Adoption of Organic Dairy Systems
Amish dairy producers have a solid and growing presence on the farm landscape. Dairy farmers in the Old Order Cashton and Hillsboro Wisconsin settlements maintain a lifestyle that they believe helps maintain their Christian values and social cohesion. They use traditional methods and technologies similar to those used decades ago by non-Amish farmers. Interview results with these Amish farmers show that a combination of values uncertainty, limited access, and utilization of information (bounded rationality) can be applied to their decision to adopt different practices well suited to the Amish, such as organic and managed grazing systems. This presentation explores how oikonomia-bounded rationality frameworks play out at the community, settlement, and individual household level and offers a fuller understanding of this decision-making. For example, there is diversity across different settlements in the way that oikonomia intertwines with the bounded rationality framework, which may be due in part to the local autonomy of individual Amish church communities. As a result, some settlements are more likely to adopt alternative practices (such as organic and grazing) than others. This diversity also indicates the subtleties and complexities of how values and bounded rationality shape farming choices not only for the Amish but also on the larger farming landscape.
Caroline Brock is an assistant teaching professor in the rural sociology department within CAFMR (College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources) at the University of Missouri in Columbia, Mo.
Are the Amish Good Citizens?
Liberal philosophers are often critical of the Amish, regarding them as poor citizens who avoid politics, unfairly limit women’s opportunities, and provide their children with a truncated education that fails to teach them how to think critically. In this paper, I explore these charges in light of both changes and continuities in Amish culture. I acknowledge the partial truth of the liberal critique, but also argue that in important respects the Amish are admirable citizens. My perspective on citizenship is fundamentally a liberal pluralist one, emphasizing diversity, toleration, and respect for rights, but it also draws on the civic republican tradition with its commitments to deliberation and the common good. I discuss a range of civic virtues (noting contested issues such as the significance of autonomy) and consider the way these virtues figure into Amish life. I also look at mainstream Americans and ask how the use of technologies like the Internet has affected civic virtue, especially among the young. I conclude that liberal philosophers make a grievous mistake in assuming that Amish culture is simply inferior to liberal culture. Amish values, though problematic in some ways and not always easily translatable to the broader society, nevertheless have something important to teach liberals.
Susan Cohen is an independent scholar who studies government and constitutional law. She has taught most recently at Lewis and Clark College.
South African Views of Amish and Hutterite Cultural “Otherness”
Nigel L. Webb
This presentation analyzes responses of undergraduate students to the “otherness” of Amish and Hutterite people. For the purpose of this study, the elements of “otherness” are derived from studies in Rural Geography—see Little (1999), Cloke (1997), Cloke, et al (1997a), and Marsden (1996).
The stimulus for this study focused on three questions that can be asked of ongoing research on Amish and Hutterite groups: Do the findings have any relevance beyond North America areas of Anabaptist origin in Europe? Is the cluster of modern societal problems such as high levels of personal and national debt, growing inequality, environmental stress, splintered families, and rampant anti-social behavior not a stimulus to consider other groups among whom these problems hardly exist? Is the cultural “otherness” of such groups so extreme as to make the “ways” of the Amish and Hutterites completely unpalatable to the wider society? Thus, the significance of this work lies in representatives from the wider society considering their own problems and having to deal with cultural “otherness” as they look towards the Anabaptists as a possible source of inspiration.
This research process involved 90-minute contact sessions that included a presentation on common societal problems as well as information on the Amish and the Hutterites. After the presentation, students were required to respond to an attitude-and-opinion questionnaire structured around elements to measure “otherness” such as community values, authority structure, and the position of women and children.
Nigel L. Webb is a principal lecturer in the division of geography and geosciences, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Port Elizabeth, South Africa.
Amish Beard Cutting: Religious Practice or Hate Crime?
This research examined a series of beard-cutting attacks against Amish individuals and the legal interpretation of those incidents in the context of the First Amendment and the 2009 Hate Crime Prevention Act. The incidents garnered international attention in the fall of 2011 as reports about the forcible cutting of Amish beards surfaced. Shortly thereafter, the FBI investigated the assaults. As a result, sixteen members of a formerly Amish group in Bergholz, Ohio, were charged with five beard-cutting attacks on nine Amish people. The trial was held in September 2012, and the jury convicted the sixteen defendants of nearly ninety hate crimes and other charges. My analysis found that the defendants were not subject to protection under the First Amendment and could be tried under the 2009 Hate Crime Prevention Act. The forcible beard cuttings violated the Amish moral order; therefore, they cannot be considered an Amish religious practice, precluding First Amendment protections and subjecting the defendants to the hate crime statute. The government can regulate dangerous religious practices. The cuttings attacked the religious identity represented by Amish beards, fitting the requirements for hate crimes motivated by victims’ religions. The examination of the case is important because it was an unprecedented event within the Amish community as well as the first time any Americans were charged with intrareligious hate crimes.
Ambre Biehl graduated from Elizabethtown College in May 2013, and her honors thesis analyzed the Amish beard-cutting case. She will begin pursuing a graduate degree in social policy in the fall.
Cell Phones and Computers: Research across Two Ethnic Religious Minorities, the Amish and the Ultra-Orthodox Jews
This paper compares and contrasts the response of some Amish and ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities to the challenge of cyber technology. Based on books, media, and interview research, it engages with the significance of the systematic debate on and adjustment to “worldly” recent technologies. The investigation encompasses first a brief overview of the historical background of both communities and pinpoints parallels. Second, it undertakes a comparative analysis between Amish and ultra-Orthodox ethnic minorities. The third part addresses the challenge and response by each community regarding the Internet and cell phones.
To what extent are the terms “cell phone” and “Internet” taboo words for the Amish and ultra-Orthodox Jews? How might the infiltration of cyber technology affect the cohesion of those religious groups? How do the behavioral patterns of the Amish and ultra-Orthodox Jews typically correspond with the concept of preserving the longevity and strength of their identity?
The overall conclusion of this socio-religious analysis is that, irrespective of the severe pressure of cyber connections, the Amish and ultra-Orthodox Jews negotiate the permeability of their sectarian communities with pondered choices; their religious dogma being their unique “compass.”
Frédérique Green, an independent scholar, studied theology and religion at Oxford Brookes University, Oxford.
You’re on Facebook?: Amish Youth’s Use of Social Media
Charles Jantzi and Richard Stevick
This paper discusses the demographics of Amish youth who use social media (Facebook and Twitter). The discussion includes an assessment of the number of Amish social media users, the differences in use among major settlements and between large and smaller settlements. The paper also presents the ways Amish youth are using social media and how this use compares to non-Amish youths’ use of social media. The method included verifying that social media users are actual Amish youth and then collecting information from them about their use of social media through observation and interviews. Social media provides Amish youth with a new method of connecting with other Amish youth and with the culture at large. This paper will explore the impact social media use has on the existing and developing friendships within the same and different Amish settlements.
Charles Jantzi is associate professor of psychology at Messiah College in Grantham, Pa. Richard Stevick is professor emeritus of psychology at Messiah College and author of Growing Up Amish: The Teenage Years (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007).
Consumption of Mass Media among Old Order Amish Women
Rivka Neriya Ben-Shahar
This presentation explores attitudes toward and consumption of mass media by women in an Old Order Amish society, based on a study carried out during my time as a guest in the Old Order Amish community of Lancaster, Pa. To date, no study of the utilization of mass media by the Amish has focused only on women or made use of the tool of questionnaires.
A number of women from my host family served as research assistants and were responsible for distributing the questionnaires among the women in their community (snowball sampling). The lecture addresses the conclusions reached on the basis of the anonymous responses to 40 questionnaires, some in-depth interviews, and observer participation. My study shows that the overwhelming majority of these Old Order Amish women avoid consumption of secular media: television, radio, and the Internet. All described fixed patterns of reading newspapers intended specifically for the Amish and restricted consumption of the general press or magazines. Their explanations that they have to direct their time and energy to family, community, church, and Jesus are consistent with how these Old Order Amish women preserve the separateness of their community and highlight their function as gatekeepers.
Rivka Neriya Ben-Shahar studied the involvement of Israeli women in mass media and received a Fulbright postdoctoral fellowship at Brandeis University.
Joseph F. Donnermeyer and Cory Anderson
This seminar presents the findings of county-based estimates of the Amish and Amish Mennonite populations. The presenters report on state-by-state population totals, trace both the historic and currently rapid growth of new Amish and Amish Mennonite settlements in various regions of Canada and the United States, and provide information on the largest Amish and Amish Mennonite settlements by size and percentage of the total population. They also project future growth and discuss possible consequences of growth as a source of social, cultural, and economic change among the Amish and Amish Mennonites.
Joseph F. Donnermeyer is professor of rural sociology and environmental social sciences at The Ohio State University and the author of numerous publications on Amish demographics and related topics. Cory Anderson is an OSU Presidential Fellow and doctoral candidate in the School of Environment and Natural Resources’ rural sociology program.
This seminar involves talkback and discussion with Kevin Kelly about his keynote address and his book What Technology Wants.
Kevin Kelly is Senior Maverick at Wired Magazine, which he cofounded in 1993, and a widely published writer on the nature and impact of technology. His recent book, What Technology Wants, includes a chapter on “Amish hackers.”
Representatives of three Lancaster County health care organizations (Lancaster General Health, Ephrata Community Hospital, Hospice of Lancaster County) will explain how their organizations reach out to members of the Plain communities in Lancaster County. They will also describe the adjustments and modifications that their organizations have made to serve members of Amish and Old Order Mennonite churches in culturally sensitive ways. Finally, they will summarize the lessons that they have learned through the development and delivery of these service and outreach programs.
Panelists include Mary Ann Robins and Lydia Nolt (Ephrata Community Hospital), Mary LeVasseur and Leslie Tahsler (Lancaster General Health), and Ann Bach (Hospice of Lancaster County).
International representatives on this panel will describe how citizens in their respective countries view Amish people and their practices in North America. The speakers will describe the sources of information available in their respective countries and also identify some of the stereotypes and myths about the Amish that are prevalent in their country. The speakers and their respective countries include Andrea Borella (Italy), Sheida Nikooravin (Iran), Jingjing Xun (China), Nanami Suzuki (Japan), and Janina Verbruggen (Belgium).
Karen M. Johnson-Weiner
In Amish communities, gender is defined by one’s role in family and church, constructed in the context of community interaction and reinforced through daily chores and interaction with others. This presentation explores how notions of gender have influenced the acceptance of new technology in different Amish communities, and as communities have adopted new work habits and technology, how these in turn have contributed to changing notions of gender and gender relationships.
Karen M. Johnson-Weiner is professor of anthropology at SUNY Potsdam. She is author of several books and numerous articles on Amish culture and coauthor of The Amish, published by Johns Hopkins University Press in 2013.
Callie T. Wiser, producer of the film The Amish, created by American Experience for PBS, will discuss gender-related issues and challenges involved with selecting subjects and producing the film.
Recent Changes in Amish Dairy Farming in Wisconsin
John A. Cross
This paper describes changes in Amish dairy farming in Wisconsin since 2002. By 2012, the Amish operated at least 1,026 dairy farms in Wisconsin, an increase of nearly 20%, yet a smaller proportion of Amish families had cows. In 2012 the Amish operated at least half of all dairy farms within 25 Wisconsin towns (up from 14 in 2002) and a quarter of all dairy herds within 52 additional towns. The proportion of Wisconsin’s dairy farms with Amish operators rose from 5 to 9%.
Two mail surveys of Amish ministers and bishops (in Fall 2002 and Fall 2012) provided information regarding the role of dairy farming and the types of technologies permitted within their church districts. Mean herd size increased from 19 to 20. The proportion of settlements utilizing bulk milk tanks grew. Milk sales provided over half of farm income in a significantly greater proportion of communities using bulk tanks. Use of technologies grew, but only within those church districts that utilized bulk tanks to store their milk. Large non-Amish dairy farms employed men from over half of the districts that produced bulk milk, but from only one-fifth of those using milk cans.
John A. Cross is a professor of geography at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and the author of numerous publications on Amish dairy farming.
Evaluating Agricultural Management Strategies for Amish Dairies in Southeastern Pennsylvania
Andrew D. McLean, Tamie L. Veith, J. M. Hamlett, and C. A. Rotz
Lancaster Old Order Amish dairy farms are prevalent in the environmentally sensitive and agricultural-centric region of Lancaster, Lebanon, and Dauphin Counties in southeastern Pennsylvania. Minimal research has been published quantifying environmental and economic impacts of implementing management practices that control erosion and nutrient losses from these dairy farms. Additionally, urban sprawl and high land prices cause high cow densities, resulting in high nutrient loading densities. Because of farming strategies that are vastly different from non-Amish farms, research on management practice impacts for non-Amish farms is unlikely to provide comparable solutions.
A baseline representation of a typical Lancaster Old Order Amish dairy operation in southeastern Pennsylvania was designed through consultation with regional county conservationists. The 50-cow farm grew conventionally tilled corn, alfalfa, and winter rye cover. The baseline and 13 alternative management scenarios were simulated over 25 years of regional weather using the whole-farm model, Integrated Farm System Model (IFSM). Creative and sometimes novel approaches were required to adapt combustion-engine-based operations and machinery within IFSM to represent horse-drawn operations. Differences between farm types ranged from replacing tractors with draft horse teams to using a 1-row corn binder instead of a 6-row combine harvester.
The alternative management scenarios had conflicting impacts on losses of nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment and farm profitability. Adding a top-loaded manure storage reduced total phosphorus runoff and nitrogen leaching losses, but increased nitrogen volatilization. Conversion of cropland to grazed pastureland reduced total phosphorus runoff and sediment loss by 47% and 43%, but increased nitrogen volatilization and leaching losses by 14% and 19%, respectively. Strip cropping reduced phosphorus and sediment losses by 29% and 38%, respectively, with no substantial impact on farm labor requirements or farm profitability. Mulch-till provided a slight increase in farm profit, while the no-till practice decreased profit due to the high capital costs of no-till equipment. Cover-cropping and harvest of rye silage combined with increased nutrient management provided the greatest increase in farm profit (+8%) while reducing phosphorus and nitrogen losses. This study provides a foundation for determining practical suites of management strategies that have the capacity to improve farm profitability while reducing environmental losses.
Andrew D. McLean is an agricultural and biological engineer who researches the impact of farm management on the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Tamie L. Veith is an agricultural engineer at Penn State University who studies watershed impacts on farming.
Amish and Non-Amish Modes of Dairy Farming Intensification and Water Quality
Alexandre Joannon, Richard Moore, and Jacques Baudry
Agricultural intensification is a key factor in world environmental problems. This research project describes the process of intensification in contrasting farm systems in two adjacent small watersheds in Sugar Creek, Ohio. One of the small watersheds is farmed by Amish dairy farmers while non-Amish dairy farmers live on the other watershed. The intensification of Amish dairy farms started in the mid 1990s, some 20 years after conventional dairy farms intensified.
We carried out a survey in 2007 to characterize the two contrasting farming systems (farm structure, animal and crop management). A dozen Amish and seven conventional dairy farmers were interviewed using a semistructured survey. All the fields were mapped using GIS. This survey allowed us to make preliminary generalizations about comparative differences between the Amish and non-Amish farming systems.
The results confirmed that Amish dairy farms were smaller than conventional ones. Data collected allowed us to calculate nitrogen and organic phosphorus loading per farm, as well as to perform landscape analyses. Both analyses, along with manure and grazing management, showed that both systems had positive and negative potential impacts on the stream. To further refine the comparison, continuous water quality monitoring was implemented on both sub-watersheds in 2012 to better assess the two modes of intensification on water quality.
Alexandre Joannon, a research scholar at the French National Institute for Agricultural Research, recently studied the environmental impact of Amish farm practices in Ohio. He is the author of numerous publications.
Comparative Studies of Traditional and Technological Innovations in Food Production among Amish and Rural African Farming Communities
Ahmed Banya and Darryl Thomas
This presentation focuses on entrepreneurship and social capital initiatives for agricultural sustainability in the 21st century. Since the 1970s, new industries and enterprises such as bakeshops, craft shops, hardware stores, health food stores, and rural factories are reshaping Amish society. Amish drive horses and buggies, remain off the power grid, and wear simple, handmade clothing; however, some use computers and talk on cell phones at their jobs. This new encounter with technology and market forces may undermine the Amish sense of equality in the long run. This study examines the differences among Amish and rural African farmers by comparing and contrasting how both farming communities have used traditional agricultural practices and technological innovations to produce foods with high nutritional values as well as added social value and food safety.
We conducted key informant (individual) and focus group interviews of Amish farmers in Pennsylvania, New York, and Ohio, as well as of African farmers in Ethiopia using qualitative and survey questions. Our guiding question is this: What lessons can be gleaned from the Amish farmers that might be useful to African farmers in the Horn of Africa since sustainability is more important than short-term profits. The Amish also offer a potential model related to food access including affordability, canning/packaging, allocation, and preference as well as identifying areas ripe for entrepreneurial activities. We focus on the transferable models from the Amish experience that might be applicable to small-holding farmers in Africa.
Ahmed Banya is completing his doctoral studies in agricultural economics, sociology, and education at Pennsylvania State University. Darryl Thomas, an associate professor in the African American studies department at Pennsylvania State University, studies international politics of the third world, North-South relations, global Africa/global Asia, the African diaspora in comparative perspective, African Americans and US foreign policy, the black radical tradition, black entrepreneurship, and black internationalism.
Meeting the Challenges for the Plain Community in Health Care: A Model to Make High Tech Acceptable
The Plain community is predisposed to burn and traumatic injuries. Some of these injuries are able to be cared for at home, while others require the “high tech” care offered within hospitals. This presentation details a strategic effort by Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) to deliver culturally sensitive care to the Plain community. This effort was prompted by initiation of a telehealth burn program between LVHN and a community hospital whose catchment area includes a large Plain Community. A key action taken by LVHN was creation of the Community Burn Outreach Liaison position, a burn nurse with outreach experience and passion for culturally sensitive care. The presentation will utilize case studies to illustrate other actions, outcomes to date, and future opportunities. Cultural awareness and sensitivity in care delivery are required by health care regulatory agencies. The work by LVHN can serve as a model for organizations to not just meet but exceed these requirements because it is the right thing to do. For the Plain community, the LVHN model has blended high touch and high tech care.
Nancy Humes is director of patient care services for the Regional Burn Center in-patient and out-patient units of the Lehigh Valley Health Network, in Allentown Pa.
A Qualitative Study: Use of Burns & Wound (B &W) Salve and Leaf Therapy for Treatment of Burns in Anabaptist Communities
M. Eve Main, M. Susan Jones, and Deborah Williams
Individuals in Anabaptist communities are exposed to increased risks for burn injuries and use non-traditional methods of burn therapy such as B & W salve along with leaf therapy (LT). The health literature is devoid of information describing this form of combined therapy. The primary purpose of the study was to gain an understanding of the experiences of using B&W salve and LT among Anabaptists. Using an exploratory qualitative design, respondents were solicited through advertisements in three widely disseminated publications. Descriptive statistics were used to summarize demographics and the three researchers identified common concepts/themes independently.
Thirty-five individuals responded from eight states and one Canadian province. Common experiences emerged and included (a) success using the therapy; (b) sources of information for burn therapy came from within the Anabaptist communities; (c) mixed sense of acceptance from health care providers; and (d) recognized need for outside care in specific situations. In conclusion, members of Anabaptist communities gain information about this alternative method of treating burns from members of their own and other Anabaptist communities, report positive outcomes, recognize the need to seek health care from outsiders in certain situations, and report lack of acceptance from some health care providers.
M. Eve Main is an associate professor in the graduate nursing program at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green. M. Susan Jones is a professor in the School of Nursing at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green.
Analysis of Health Issues in Family Life
Chiho Oyabu and Kana Oyabu
The Amish use both modern medical treatments and folk remedies in their everyday lives. This research aims to clarify how Amish people think about and deal with health issues by analyzing health-related articles in Family Life.
We analyzed the articles of “Home Remedies and Suggestions” and “Your Health” since 1980. These articles consist of questions, answers, and comments. The questions are from Family Life readers and the answers and comments are from Dr. Amstutz. We analyzed them by common medical disease, method of medical treatment, and narrative content.
There are 737 articles, 258 questions, 439 answers, and 37 comments. Concerning the groups of disease, 15.4% are about “disorder of nutrition and metabolism,” followed by “skin disorders” and “children’s health issues.” Concerning the methods of medical treatment, 47.4% of articles are about folk remedies and 15.7% are about modern medical treatments. Concerning the contents, not many Amish are interested in the cause of their diseases. As a result of this research, it can be said that the Amish are interested in daily health issues. While they prefer folk remedies for most diseases, they need more information about modern medical treatments for serious illnesses.
Chiho Oyabu is a professor at Gifu University in Japan, where she teaches family budget analysis, Amish lifestyle, and family relations. Kana Oyabu is a professor at Kanazawa University in Japan, where she teaches English and English literature and pursues research on Amish culture.
“Counsel on the Internet” and the Old German Baptist Brethren Division of 2009
Gerald J. Mast
The 2009 Old German Baptist Brethren division resulted from conflict over a variety of issues. However, disagreement about the place of networked computers was likely the straw that broke the camel’s back. Relying primarily on annual meeting minutes, articles in denominational periodicals, and interviews with church members on both sides of the schism in the Miami Valley region of Ohio, this presentation explains why the more traditional side of the schism opposed use of the Internet.
This research illustrates a conservative Anabaptist process for discernment about the use of digital technology in a documented process based on a parliamentary model privileging unanimity of consent and respect for recorded precedent. The Brethren approach to polity differs from Amish decision-making that is centered in the improvised voice of the local district/congregation. The Brethren model seeks consistent denominational unity while the Amish model leads to congregational differences even among similar districts.
The study is part of a larger research project on critical cultural knowledge among conservative and Old Order Anabaptist communities regarding the social costs and benefits of modern technologies, especially digital technology. This contested knowledge is manifested in discussions and conflicts within these communities about the proper uses of digital technology and provides useful cues to anyone seeking to understand the unintended cultural and personal consequences of adopting digital technology. The research draws on a variety of past and current theoretical resources.
Gerald J. Mast, author of numerous books and articles on Anabaptist groups, is a professor of communication at Bluffton University in Bluffton, Ohio.
Beachy Amish Mennonite Young Adult Use of Communication Innovations to Achieve Social Network Power
The Beachy Amish Mennonites have departed from horse-and-buggy Amish in (1) permitting greater flexibility with technological adoption, and (2) lowering the baptism/membership age to the time when adolescents tend to test community symbols and structures. When young adults test symbolic boundaries as church members, the implications stretch to the formal boundaries of the church itself.
In this study, I test the hypothesis that the Beachy Amish Mennonite young adults who occupy positions of social power and influence are also those who gain such status with technological innovations that challenge church boundaries. A complete network of Beachy adolescents was mapped using a cohort of 97 students from a variety of Beachy churches who attended a three-week Bible school in rural Arkansas. The school served as a sampling frame of Beachy youth in general. Youth named their friends and answered a number of personal questions, including attitudes towards texting, Facebook, YouTube, DVDs, television, computer games, and e-mailing. Popularity rankings and several quantitative network measures were used to assess the social influence of technological adopters. Factor analysis revealed a personality typology defined by all technological innovations except e-mailing. This typology also held the most social power across several measurements, indicating a powerful undercurrent of youth challenging traditional church boundaries.
Cory Anderson is an Ohio State University Presidential Fellow and doctoral candidate in the School of Environment and Natural Resources’ rural sociology program. He is the author of The Amish-Mennonites of North America: A Portrait of a People (Ridgeway, 2013).
Amish Youth on the Internet: A Phase of a Fatal Error?
Richard Stevick and Charles Jantzi
A significant but growing minority of Amish youth are getting on the Internet through their local libraries, an occasional shared laptop, but mostly through their smartphones. Parents and ministers express concerns about this trend but freely admit that they are essentially ignorant about the harmful or beneficial aspects of being on the Internet. Additionally, Amish churches in most places have yet to resolve the issue of cell phones, let alone smartphones, among adult members. In light of their traditional values and Anabaptist Christian commitments, their concerns are understandable, especially when one examines the subculture of Amish youth as revealed by their involvement in the social media.
This presentation will touch upon both Amish adolescent behaviors and attitudes towards popular culture as evident on publicly accessible social media pages. It will also point out some Internet options and youthful tendencies that may work against commitment to Amish ideals and their traditions.
The information for this presentation was obtained through examining public submissions to social media; interviews with parents, ministers, and youth in both large and small settlements; and articles and letters written about the Internet in Family Life.
Richard Stevick is professor emeritus of psychology at Messiah College in Grantham, Pa., and author of Growing Up Amish: The Teenage Years (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007). Charles Jantzi is associate professor of psychology at Messiah College.
This seminar covers Amish approaches to health, illness, and various types of medicine. It considers approaches used by medical anthropologists for assessing health and cultural practices of care. Participants will examine the five-armed plural medical system of the Amish in the Lancaster area. The last segment of the seminar will integrate these ideas and explore one facet in more depth—the Amish use of Western medicine and their experiences in biomedical settings and with clinical genomics and scientific research.
Martha King is a PhD candidate in anthropology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a predoctoral trainee at the Center for Genomics and Society. Her research investigates modes of health care among the Amish settlement of Lancaster, Pa. Drawing from plural medical systems utilized by the Amish, her current project focuses on fields of contention, cooperation, and negotiation between Amish patient populations and genetic medicine.
Edsel Burdge Jr.
The seminar provides an overview of Amish population growth in 30 states and some 470 communities as of May 2013 as well as the rate of growth over the past 20 years (1993-2013). In addition, seminar participants will learn about interstate migration rates of Amish households over the past 40 years.
Edsel Burdge Jr. is a research associate at the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown College.
In May 2013, the Johns Hopkins University Press released The Amish, a companion book to the American Experience film by the same title. The Amish is the first book to provide a comprehensive overview of Amish life in North America since John Hostetler’s Amish Society in 1963. In the book, authors Donald Kraybill, Karen Johnson-Weiner, and Steven Nolt identify some 40 different Amish subgroups and offer descriptive analysis and interpretation of major topics in Amish culture organized into twenty-two different chapters. Moderator Callie T. Wiser will interview the authors about the process of researching and writing the book as well as its substantive contributions. Ample time will be provided for questions from the audience.
Callie T. Wiser, producer of the two-hour American Experience film The Amish, which aired on PBS in February 2012, will moderate this panel session.
This panel features two teams of health care providers.
Speaking with our Hearts: The Key to a Successful Health Intervention
Working with Amish settlements across Ohio for the past 15 years addressing high breast cancer mortality, Amish and non-Amish Community Health Workers (CHWs) developed culturally competent education materials. The presentations will share the advice and experiences of both Amish and non-Amish CHWs working from two different cultural perspectives. Key aspects of the Project Hoffnung(The Amish and Mennonite Breast Health Project) outreach model will be identified from evidence-based and qualitative research.
Presenters: Melissa Thomas, founding director of Project Hoffnung, and community health workers Ella Miller, Martha Byler, Linda Nisley, and Doretta Thomas.
Improving the Health Care Interface with Amish via Community-Based Participatory Research
This team of three health care professionals will highlight the beneficial outcomes of focus group research conducted among five Amish communities in north central Pennsylvania. Faculty and medical students from the Commonwealth Medical College and health care providers from Susquehanna Health (a multi-hospital health system in north central Pa.) employed a “community-based participatory research” approach to explore both Amish health beliefs and their health care experiences. This collaborative inquiry resulted in productive working relationships, increased mutual understandings, and several initiatives designed to address health care issues in these Amish communities.
Presenters include Janet M. Townsend, chair of the Department of Family Community and Rural Health at the Commonwealth Medical College in Scranton, Pa; Donald Hess, a former family physician who works for Susquehanna Health, organizing clinical and financial services to meet the needs of the Plain community; and Daniel Lapp, a small business owner from Centre County, Pa., who serves on the board of the Parochial Medical Center in New Holland, Pa.
Technology Change across Multiple Affiliations: A Holmes County Update
David L. McConnell
The Holmes County Settlement is not only the largest but also the most diverse Amish community, with at least 12 Amish affiliations living close together. Adding to the complexity, a variety of other Anabaptist groups and former Amish individuals with access to off-limits Amish technologies live there. Against this backdrop, Amish decisions about technology use are framed not only by the English “cyber world,” but by the choices made by other Amish groups.
This paper explores recent debates over selected technologies in the Holmes County Settlement through the lens of the four major affiliations: the Swartzentrubers, the Andy Weavers, the Old Orders, and the New Orders. Using Kraybill’s widely cited 1994 article as a base line, I ask to what extent the cultural fences have moved for each of these affiliations over the past 20 years, and why. How have recent divisions within the Swartzentrubers affected their technology use? What are the current debates within the Andy Weaver church over bulk milk tanks, now that so many of their members are no longer farming? How are Old Order families and individuals pushing the envelope on photography, gas dryers, solar power, and smartphones? And are the “non-electric New Order” in Holmes County beginning to accept electricity from the grid? Based on fieldwork conducted for An Amish Paradox and on a more recent set of interviews on Amish ecological perspectives, this paper takes the pulse of generational change in technology use in the Holmes County Settlement.
David McConnell is a professor of anthropology at the College of Wooster and the coauthor of An Amish Paradox: Diversity and Change in the World’s Largest Amish Community.
Technology in the Service of Community:
The Philosophy and Appropriation of Technology among the Andy Weaver Churches
Christopher G. Petrovich
At first glance, the Andy Weaver Amish appear to exemplify the stereotypical portrait of the North American Amish as strict, industrious, and morally conscientious inhabitants of a bygone era. With more than a dozen noncommuning Amish affiliations inhabiting the late modern North American scene, what sets an Andy Weaver philosophy of technology apart from the rest? I consider this question from two discrete angles, commencing with an analysis of three moral/theological motifs that are quintessentially Anabaptist—Christian sanctification viewed primarily in terms of leading a demütig (humble) life, separation from an ungodly multitude (i.e., “the world”), and salvation by faith—but receive a distinct hue among the Andy Weavers. Next, I approach this question from a phenomenological angle by examining three intramural tussles provoked by dissension over the recurring dilemma of whether to permit a previously forbidden innovation. Finally, I bring these observations together in an effort to delineate the main contours of an Andy Weaver philosophy of technology without neglecting to note the wide-ranging differences that exist between, and at times within, communities. However, I begin with the more fundamental question: Who are the Andy Weaver Amish?
Christopher G. Petrovich is an independent scholar who studies and writes on the intersection of theology, spirituality, and conservative Anabaptist groups.
Challenging Stereotypes and Stigmas: Newspaper Photographs of Old Order Amish Public School Achievement
Old Order Amish culture has historically prohibited its adherents from taking photographs of themselves or willingly allow others to do so. For the most part, media have respected this ethnoreligious prohibition. Within the past decade, however, Amish people have become high value targets of national news and entertainment media, albeit generally pertaining to reports of deviance or “oddities” among them. Concurrently, one non-Amish-owned newspaper has been publishing photographs that, counter to the negative and discrediting content making national headlines, documents the achievements of Amish children in public school activities. It is not unusual for Amish children to demonstrate this level of academic achievement, but it is unusual for the general public in this area to be made aware of their abilities. The purpose of this study was twofold: to document the history of this change from past practice, and to ascertain the opinions of Old Order Amish bishops regarding the manner in which these photographs might challenge the stereotype and stigma of “dumb Amishman,” as well as the more recent mark of “deviant Amishman.” The importance of this study underscores the manner in which positive media exposure could potentially challenge stereotyping and stigmatization.
Denise Reiling is a professor of sociology at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti who studies and writes on Amish culture and society.
Designing Injury Prevention Resources for Amish Families
S. Dee Jepsen and Kathy Mann
In an ever-changing world, the foundation of the Anabaptist’s agrarian lifestyle is centered around the family. An unfortunate reality is that hazards exist and tragedies happen in these rural communities. Programming efforts have sought to identify hazards and assist in prevention/intervention educational resources.
Data collected through stakeholder meetings and focus groups in six U.S. states provided information to design culturally appropriate resources to address Anabaptists needs. Results include: 1) farm safety curriculum for school-age Amish children, 2) revision of a current lighting and marking standard for low-profile pony carts, and 3) a roadway safety video. The dissemination of these educational resources occurs through a variety of methods such as school lesson plans, educational factsheets, outreach events, community health fairs, safety demonstrations, or the Internet.
The mission of a successful outreach approach is that it serves the intended audience. These outreach programs are examples of how the Ohio State University Extension Agricultural Safety and Health program utilizes data to teach best safety practices. The over-arching goal of these programming efforts is to provide rural communities with information to reduce injuries and fatalities related to farm and roadway safety.
S. Dee Jepsen, an assistant professor and state extension safety leader at the Ohio State University, manages numerous safety programs in Anabaptist communities. Kathy Mann is the program coordinator for the USDA-funded project titled “Developing Cultural- and Age-Appropriate Farm Safety Resources for Anabaptist Children and Their Families.”
“The Message Isn’t Always as It Seems”: Culturally Appropriate Cancer Education for Amish and Mennonite Communities
Doretta Thomas and Melissa Thomas
Home to the world’s largest Amish settlement, Ohio also houses dozens of Amish and Mennonite communities found most often in the rural and Appalachian sections of the state where access to cancer education is severely limited by transportation, translation, and technology. Previous research by the community-led Project Hoffnung (Hope) team centered on developing effective breast cancer education interventions aimed at reducing barriers and increasing compliance to recommended breast cancer screening guidelines. This paper reports focus group feedback after each education program to understand how participants perceived key messages.
From April 2011 through February 2012, 463 women received a 20-minute breast cancer education program by three trained community educators mostly at pre-arranged women’s health screening events and at small group in-home meetings. A total of 147 focus groups were conducted at 22 separate events. Participants were asked a series of questions about breast cancer facts and their meaning in terms of literacy, numeracy, and cultural issues.
A preliminary analysis of the data revealed that key breast cancer messages were not effectively communicated in the education intervention. For example, out of the 147 sessions, 114 sessions (78%) included contradicting responses when attendees were asked about the risk of getting breast cancer in a lifetime. Answers were often selected based on what the participant wished instead of actual facts. The results have generated best practices to develop more effective programs in rural underserved communities.
Melissa Thomas, founder of Project Hoffnung, is the manager of OhioHealth Research & Innovation Institute in Columbus, Ohio.
Perceptions of Child Body Weight and Feeding Patterns in an Old Order Mennonite Community
Dawn Garrett-Wright, Eve Main, and M. Susan Jones
Feeding practices in some religious communities may decrease childhood obesity. However, there is limited research in these communities to assess maternal perceptions of their children’s weight and feeding patterns. The purpose of this study was to ascertain Old Order Mennonite mothers’ perceptions of their children’s body weight and to examine feeding patterns for their children. Participants for this descriptive, correlational study were recruited from an Old Order Mennonite community in south central Kentucky. Children and mothers’ Body Mass Index (BMI) was measured, and mothers completed four questionnaires. Fourteen families with 65 children participated. Fifteen children (23.1%) had BMIs >85%, and 24.6% of mothers underestimated their child’s weight. Breastfeeding was common (98.5%), with a mean age for cessation of 17.3 months. Mean age for introduction of solid foods was 8 months. Results demonstrated that mothers were neutral about obesity risk in their children. Mothers reported concerns about high sugar foods, limiting access to unhealthy foods, and children eating all food served at meals. Maternal health literacy scores were comparable to scores found in other studies. Further study is required to ascertain specific feeding habits that may account for high BMIs.
Dawn Garrett-Wright is an assistant professor, Baccalaureate and Masters Nursing Programs, College of Health and Human Services, Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green. M. Eve Main is an associate professor in the graduate nursing program at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green. M. Susan Jones is a professor in the School of Nursing at Kentucky University in Bowling Green.
An Ethnographic Study of the Health Care Beliefs and Practices of the Old Order Amish in Cattaraugus County, New York
This ethnographic study collected data on the health care practices of 28 Old Order Amish, predominantly from the Conewango Valley, the oldest extant and largest community of Old Order Amish in New York State. Contemporary methods of gathering qualitative data were not appropriate for this high context and closed culture. After living within this community for several years, this nurse practitioner wanted to better understand the cultural basis of the health beliefs and behaviors of this population. This qualitative study utilized an 18-point questionnaire, individual journaling of responses, and follow-up spoken review. Health care utilization and beliefs vary, even within the same family. Access is less important than trust and faith in the “healer.” Care is as important as cure. “Doctoring” starts at home and includes herbals, botanical supplements, manipulative and body-based therapies, brauche, and quackery. Health care professionals require an understanding of health care practices and beliefs in order to provide mutually satisfying health care to this rapidly expanding subpopulation.
Lynn Ouellette is a solo nurse practitioner in a primary care office, Medicor Associates of Salamanca, in Salamanca, New York.
Social Support Moderates Physical and Mental Health of Amish Women
Christina L. Abbott
The purpose of this study was to determine whether a relationship exists between health status and self-esteem, mood, and psychosocial stress in Old Order Amish women ages 18 to 45 and to examine how social support moderates this relationship. Cross-sectional population-based survey data from the Central Pennsylvania Women’s Health Study (CePAWHS) were used. Participants included 288 randomly selected Amish women, ages 18 to 45 years, living in Lancaster County, Pa. Participants completed the SF-12v2™, a six-item depressive symptom scale, a social support scale, the Psychosocial Profile Hassles Scale, and the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale. Health status was correlated with self-esteem and depressed mood in Old Order Amish women. The results showed that Amish women with better health had higher self-esteem and better mood than those in poor health. No correlation was found between health status and psychosocial stress. Regression analyses indicate the relationship between health status and self-esteem was moderated by social support. Social support did not mediate the relationship between health status and depression or psychosocial stress. This study suggests that the psychological well-being of Amish women in poor health is enhanced by the social support they receive. Consequently, engaging the community’s social interconnections may be beneficial in patient treatment.
Christina L. Abbott is a visiting assistant professor in the psychology department at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa.
Amish Youth Vision Project: A Model for Mental Health Services with Old Order Amish Adolescents
Christopher R. Weber
Models of intervention with adolescent alcohol and drug use emphasize education and counseling and minimize the criminal sanctions applied to adults. Ironically, Amish parents express concern about this type of intervention when their youth are exposed to values, principles, and even Christian beliefs in the cottage industry of alcohol and drug treatment that counter their own deeply held Anabaptist tenets. The Amish Youth Vision Project is a collaborative effort between the Amish community and mental health professionals, providing classes for youth whose parents are Old Order Amish. The program is innovative in the use of Amish young adults as co-leaders for the classes, bridging the cultural gap between “the world” and the Amish community. The program has been in existence for seven years, and has expanded in scope and demonstrated effectiveness.
This presentation provides an overview of the social forces that allowed the Vision Project to coalesce, the formative stages of development and efforts to develop social capital within the Amish community, and the struggles to maintain a program that remains sensitive to the needs of that community in the face of changing demands and expectations.
Christopher R. Weber is a licensed mental health counselor and licensed clinical addictions counselor in northeast Indiana. He founded and directs the Amish Youth Vision Project and has published articles on drug and alcohol interventions with the Old Order Amish.
Responding to Domestic Violence
Chris Weber and James Cates
Domestic violence is an issue that can be addressed by Amish communities; in fact. sometimes it can be addressed more effectively than mental illness and drug addiction, which are often impeded by traditional remedies and ineffective discipline.
Mental health disciplines and social services are rooted in legal traditions and structures that in some ways are poorly suited to help an Amish family deal with domestic violence without violating the values of patriarchal authority and submission. Values of feminism, individual autonomy, and empowerment are, on their face, incompatible with Amish values of submission to authority and nonresistance.
The “Sewing Circle” is a loosely associated group of Amish women who care for one another while yielding to the authority of their faith community. They have shared their stories in a booklet titled The Doorway to Hope, in which they provided examples from their lives and helpful information from sensitive mental health professionals to encourage other Amish people struggling with domestic violence.
We will share our experiences with the “Sewing Circle” as mental health professionals who have assisted Amish women who have survived domestic violence. These women have navigated the path between secular social services and the Amish church to provide for the safety of themselves and their children while remaining faithful to their Amish faith.
Christopher R. Weber is a licensed mental health counselor and licensed clinical addictions counselor with a private practice in northeast Indiana with wide experience with Amish clients. James Cates is a board-certified clinical psychologist whose practice in northeastern Indiana includes services to Amish people. He has published widely on therapy, psychological testing, and substance abuse treatment with this population.
Producer Callie Wiser will discuss the logistical and ethical challenges of creating a two-hour documentary about the Amish. The film, which aired as part of the American Experienceseries on PBS in February 2012, included interviews and footage shot in numerous Amish communities in five different states. Wiser will show short excerpts from the film and describe the process of gaining access to these communities. Ample time will be given for Q&A.
Callie T. Wiser is a documentary filmmaker based in Boston, Massachusetts. She recently produced The Amish, an Emmy nominated film for American Experience on PBS. Prior to that she produced the documentary George H.W. Bush for the American Experience and co-produced the first two episodes of the six-part series God in America, a coproduction of American Experience and Frontline.
Some 12,000 Amish businesses—both small cottage industries and growth-oriented firms—have emerged across North America since 1980. This seminar introduces the origins of this remarkable economic shift and the diversity of products and services Amish businesses offer. Seminar participants will discuss the implications of this profound transformation in Amish life—culturally, technologically, and economically—and consider together how an ethic of limits may spark creative innovation.
Steven Nolt is professor of history at Goshen College in Goshen, Indiana, and book review editor for the journal Mennonite Quarterly Review. He is coauthor of The Amish (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013) as well as other books and articles on Amish history and contemporary life, including The Amish Way: Patient Faith in a Perilous World (Jossey-Bass, 2010), Plain Diversity: Amish Cultures and Identities (Johns Hopkins, 2007), and A History of the Amish (Good Books, rev. ed. 2003).
Sixteen members of the Bergholz “Amish” community in Ohio were convicted in federal court in the fall of 2012 of hate crime attacks against nine Amish victims outside their community. The three-week trial, which involved all the defendants and their attorneys, resulted in the first federal hate crimes convictions (as defined by the 2009 hate crime statute) for attacks within a religious community. Panelists will describe the process and legal significance of this unusual and lengthy trial.
Panelists include Tom Getz, Assistant US Prosecuting Attorney, and David Weaver-Zercher, academic consultant to the prosecution.
The Geauga Settlement, located primarily in Geauga County but expanding into Ashtabula, Trumbull, and Portage Counties in Ohio, is the fourth largest Amish settlement. The high fertility of the Amish and their very high retention rate in this settlement creates growing demands on health care providers to meet the needs of the Amish. This panel, convened by Amish scholars Lawrence Greksa and Jill Korbin, will focus on the efforts of several health care agencies to provide culturally appropriate and affordable health care to Amish residents.
A Medical Home for Children with Special Needs in the Amish Community–A Model to Follow?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) defines a “medical home” as primary care that is accessible, continuous, comprehensive, family-centered, coordinated, compassionate, and culturally effective. During the last 10 years, the DDC (Das Deutsch Center) Clinic, a collaboration of families, Amish communities, medical professionals, and research scientists, has provided a medical home to over 600 children and families with rare genetic and metabolic conditions. The presenters will describe this medical home and the positive outcomes it has generated for these children, their families, and their communities. (Presenters: DDC staff Blake Andres, Alicia Bright, Patti Gallagher, and founder and medical director Heng Wang.)
How Shall We Name These New Diseases? The Challenges Brought by Modern Technology and Genomic Medicine
The roles new technologies and methodologies play in he studies of genetic disorders in genetically isolated populations is dramatic. Since the new technology using high-density and high-throughput single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) arrays for genotyping was developed, new doors have been opened for disease gene mapping in Amish populations. The significance of homozygosity mapping is particularly meaningful for those patients suffering from unknown recessive genetic conditions. Patients could remain undiagnosed or misdiagnosed forever, unless their condition is studied and described. These technologies not only open new avenues in the elucidation of genetic defects causing monogenic disorders, but also create challenges about naming these new conditions. (Presenters: Heng Wang, DDC Clinic medical director, and Baozhong Xin, DDC Clinic research scientist.)
Providing Dental Care for the Amish in Geauga County, Ohio
Since the Dental Care Mobile of the Ronald McDonald House Charities has been serving Amish children, the pediatric dentists have seen many dental decays. There is little research about oral health in the Amish community. The charts of patients who were seen in Middlefield, Ohio, were reviewed and some oral health problems in the Amish have been found. (Presenter: Masahiro Heima.)
Beyond a Community Survey—What Services Are Needed and How Can We Provide Them?
Amish families face unusual challenges when they strive to care for their children with chronic conditions in the world of modern medicine. A survey was performed as a part of the Love, Faith, and Family—Amish Genetic Disease Education and Care project funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Local Initiative Funding Partners six years ago in the Geauga County Amish Settlement. Based on our survey, we found that the most needed services were transportation to care, access to subspecialties, and disease information. We have since developed or strengthened the Healthy Tomorrow transportation program, subspecialty clinic days, the Patient Assistance Program, and the Love, Faith, and Family educational newsletter for the community. (Presenters: Wendi Wang, Patti Gallagher, Linda Vinney, and Heng Wang.)
Changing Trends and Outcomes in Mental Health Outreach and Treatment of the Amish Population
Mental health outreach to the local Amish population has always been more complicated than outreach to the non-Amish population. In the Geauga Settlement, building trust and providing localized care while implementing specialized case management have led to an increase of 400% in Amish clients. National approaches to health care often utilize technology to help treat and monitor rural populations but these models will do little to provide a better quality of care to the Amish. The Geauga County Board of Mental Health and Recovery Services is adapting its outreach and treatment models to address national changes in health care, while maintaining quality mental health services to this specialized population. I will focus on that model, our outreach system of care, funding issues, and the future of behavioral health care in the Amish community. (Presenter: Jim Adams, executive director and CEO of the Geauga County Board of Mental Health and Recovery Services.)
In 2012, new Amish romance novels appeared on the market at the rate of one every four days. This talk will examine popular theories about why Amish romance fiction is so commercially successful, as well as the less obvious forces that are fueling the rise of the genre. Hypermodernity and the hypersexualization of popular culture stand at the center of Amish-themed fiction’s appeal to millions of readers, and this plenary will outline the contours of these phenomena as they relate to Amish fiction.
Valerie Weaver-Zercher is the author of Thrill of the Chaste: The Allure of an Amish Romance Novel (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013). An editor and writer, she is a regular contributor to Sojourners and The Christian Century.