Call for Papers: The Russlaender Centenary

November 17, 2021

The Russlaender Mennonites: War, Dislocation, and New Beginnings

July 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. Paper 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: July 1, 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.

Attend Our Upcoming Event


This webinar will explore how Mennonites have historically addressed the spiritual, social, and economic implications of alcohol production, consumption, and sales in their communities...

December 9th, 2021

Virtual Lecture