Call for Papers: The Russlaender Centenary

April 1, 2022

The Russlaender Mennonites: War, Dislocation, and New Beginnings

July 14–15, 2023

A Conference Hosted by the Centre for Transnational Mennonite Studies
at The University of Winnipeg

Between 1923 and 1929 some 21,000 Mennonites from the Soviet Union left a land decimated by violence, famine, and epidemic. They found shelter in far-off Canada, where government, church communities, and private businesses supported their immigration. These migrants, popularly known as the Russlaender Mennonites, made Canada their home. For the past 100 years, they have influenced the shape of Canadian Mennonite communities through their family networks, churches, economic pursuits (as labourers, professionals, and entrepreneurs), and in the world of politics, faith, arts, and service.

This centenary conference invites papers from a variety of disciplines that explore the development of the Russlaender, from late imperial Russia through war, revolution, and upheaval in the early Soviet Union to their relocation to Canada. Papers could include factors that drove their immigration to Canada, and the inter-generational evolution of their identity and communities in Canada. 

Proposals might consider:

  • Mennonite-government negotiations (Canadian, Tsarist, Provisional, or Soviet governments)
  • Religious freedoms, and minority rights
  • Citizenship and belonging
  • Intercultural relationships with their neighbours in imperial Russia, Soviet Ukraine or Russia, and Canada 
  • Transplanted foodways, culture, language
  • Gender relations
  • Violence and Mennonite identity 
  • Emigration and Immigration
  • Political ideologies and contested identities 
  • Family stories
  • Material culture
  • Artistic expression

The conference will be hosted by the Centre for Transnational Mennonite Studies (CTMS) at the University of Winnipeg and will also be live-streamed.

Proposal submission: August 31, 2022. Email a 100-word proposal and short CV (or questions) to the CTMS co-directors, Aileen Friesen ( and Ben Nobbs-Thiessen (, at the University of Winnipeg.

Our Next Annual Conference

Subjects, Settlers, Citizens

The 1870s Mennonites in Historical Context

University of Winnipeg and Livestream