2016 Amish Conference: Watch 3 Talks Live Here

The 2016 Amish conference (“Continuity and Change: 50 Years of Amish Society“) kicked off today, and I heard that it got off to a good start.

Photo by Jane Donovan

Unfortunately, my plans to attend changed, and I have to miss this one.

If you’re like me and wish you could be there, there is some good news.

We’ve arranged to have conference attendees share some information, impressions, photos, etc. from the 3-day event here on the site over the next few days.

You can also watch three of the conference talks live, one on each of the next three days:

  1. At 6:45 PM today, tune in to hear Steven Nolt deliver the keynote address, “Amish Society: Continuity and Dynamism in a Hyper-Modern World.”
  2. Tomorrow you can catch Karen Johnson-Weiner speaking on “Continuity and Change in the Lives of Amish Women” at 10:30 AM.
  3. Finally, Donald Kraybill will give his plenary address “Worms in the Amish Software: Coping with Risk in a Cyber World” at 11:15 AM Saturday (all times EST).

You can watch the livestream of each of these talks here, in the viewer below.

I have included the description for each talk/speaker below the stream, courtesy of the Young Center conference web site.

Descriptions of Talks and Speakers

Thursday, June 9, 6:45 PM

Amish Society: Continuity and Dynamism in a Hyper-Modern World

Steve Nolt

During the past half century Amish society has attracted attention for its remarkable persistence in the midst of modern North America. Yet the fact that the Amish survive and thrive has just as surely been a result of their ability to adapt to changing circumstances. Steve Nolt will consider key developments in Amish society and its relationship with wider social forces since the mid-twentieth century. In charting these patterns he will suggest what they may say about the possibilities and limits of American pluralism today, as well as for the future of a dynamic and increasingly diverse Amish world in the twenty-first century.

Steve Nolt will come from Goshen College to begin his position as the new senior scholar at the Young Center in July 2016. His most recent book is The Amish: A Concise Introduction (2016), published by the Johns Hopkins University Press. Other recent publications include A History of the Amish, 3rd ed. (2015) and The Amish (2013), coauthored with Donald Kraybill and Karen Johnson-Weiner.

Friday, June 10, 10:30 AM

Continuity and Change in the Lives of Amish Women

Karen Johnson-Weiner

The growing technological diversity in the Amish world, unimaginable even fifty years ago, has had enormous impact on family life and community relationships, economic interaction with non-Amish society, the role of the church in the lives of Amish men and women, and Amish notions of appropriate gender behavior. In the past, researchers argued, Amish women became Amish wives and their primary role was to manage the household. They were the “keepers at home,” helpmeets to their husbands. Today, Amish women are still running households—but they may also be running businesses, writing books, engaged in wage labor on an assembly line, or serving pies in a restaurant. Their roles are as varied as Amish communities themselves. This talk explores how the socially defined roles of Amish women have changed as Amish churches have evolved.

Karen Johnson-Weiner is a professor of anthropology at SUNY Potsdam. She is also the author of New York Amish: Life in the Plain Communities of the Empire State and Train Up a Child: Old Order Amish and Mennonite Schools and coauthor (with Donald B. Kraybill and Steven M. Nolt) of The Amish.

Saturday, June 11, 11:15 AM

Worms in the Amish Software: Coping with Risk in a Cyber World

Donald Kraybill

The vitality of Amish society over the last half century screams success. Yet beneath this glossy surface lie many snares for their way of life in the twenty-first century. Donald Kraybill will identify vulnerabilities in Amish culture that could impair their future in a cyber world. Some of these hazards are embedded the rise of business, use of technology, religious beliefs, and church organization among others.

Donald Kraybill, recently retired from teaching, continues to research and write about North America’s Anabaptist communities. His most recent book, Renegade Amish (2014), tells the tale of the Bergholz barbers. He is the editor of Young Center Books in Anabaptist and Pietist Studies published by the Johns Hopkins University Press.

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    1. Emily


      Thanks so much for letting us know about the livestream. I was all signed up to go and then had to cancel; I’m excited to be able to see these parts of the conference. I hope everyone who’s attending has a wonderful time.

      1. Glad to hear it Emily, also just posted on the business tour and hope to have some more interesting content to share. Looks like Karen’s talk will be starting shortly.

    2. Loretta

      Thank you

      Thank you for all that you do. After a trip to Lancaster in May I read about this conference and was wishing I could have attended. Living so far away, it’s just not possible.

      How far in advance do they schedule these, Erik?

      1. Hi Loretta, they plan them out about a year or two in advance, in order to put out a call for papers, etc. and so they can gather the presenters. The last one was three years ago in 2013 (main theme: Amish tech, though it covered many topics), and 2011 (on forgiveness following Nickel Mines). I don’t know the plans for the next one, but the pattern at least lately has been every 2-3 years.

    3. Karen Johnson-Weiner's talk on Amish Women

      Just watched Karen’s talk, I enjoyed it. Too bad there was not more time for Q and A, but the questions we got were pretty good.

      I recognized a couple of photos, she had shared the potato chips photo, and also the Swartzentruber stove with the dog (one of my favorites) here with us previously 🙂 Also liked the quotes from the Amish woman in 1903.

    4. Sheila Munro


      As I couldn’t watch the talks live, (time difference between UK and US may things tricky!) is there a site I could visit to read the papers?

    5. Ferris Watson

      Cell Phones

      Donal Kraybill talk will be of interest. Especially the use of Cell phones with in the Swartzentruber Amish.
      I have observed the past few years there has been a push back of Swartzentruber Amish in Central Wis, the reluctance of even holding a Cell phone. Many have ask to turn on the speaker so they could talk and not have physical contact with the Cell Phone.
      There are other so called push backs to regain their lost ways.

      You can be assured that Donald Kraybill words and books are on many a mind of Swartzentruber Amish.

      Worms in the Amish Software: Coping with Risk in a Cyber World
      Donald Kraybill