As mentioned before, this spring the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown College will be hosting a 3-day conference entitled “Amish America: Plain Technology in a Cyber World“.  From the description:

This international conference will highlight the challenges and impact of recent technology (the Internet, social media, and telecommunications, for example) on manufacturing, family life, consumption, medicine, and leisure for Amish and other Plain communities in North America. In addition, conference presentations and seminars will cover many other aspects of Amish life including health care, mental health, social services, agriculture, business, history, quilts, and Amish-themed fiction.

Though its focus is technology, as you can see a wide variety of topics will be covered.  Along with 100+ presentations and workshops, the four plenary speakers have been announced:

  • Kevin Kelly of Wired Magazine.  I read his book What Technology Wants a while back, and found it very interesting, particularly the chapter on “Amish hackers”.
  • Karen Johnson-Weiner of SUNY-Potsdam.  You may know her from Train Up a Child: Old Order Amish & Mennonite Schools, and New York Amish: Life in the Plain Communities of the Empire State.  She is also a co-author of the upcoming book The Amish.
  • Valerie Weaver-Zercher, contributor for Sojourners and Christian Century.  Valerie’s new book is entitled The Thrill of the Chaste: The Allure of Amish Romance Novels.  Valerie discussed Amish novels in an interview for this site last year.
  • Dr. Alan Shuldiner of the University of Maryland School of Medicine.  Founder and director of the Amish Research Clinic, Dr. Shuldiner has gathered data on over 6,000 Amish individuals.

There will be a session on the Ohio beard-cutting case; other topics include burn treatments, Facebook, Amish films, historic preservation, quilts, genetic research, and trends in Amish technology.

Two new books will also be released at the conference, including The Amish, by Donald Kraybill, Karen Johnson-Weiner, and Steven Nolt, and The Thrill of the Chaste by Weaver-Zercher.  There are also two tours available, the “Agriculture and Business” tour and the “Health and Medical Services” tour, which include lunch in an Amish home.

Registration is now open for the conference, which will be held June 6-8, 2013 at Elizabethtown College in Elizabethtown, PA.

You can access the preliminary conference schedule, as well as find registration information in the conference brochure.  There is a fee for the conference of $210 which includes all meals and refreshments (discounts available for students and Plain community members).  It looks to be an information-rich three days and excellent opportunity to learn from some of the leading researchers of Amish life and culture.


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