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Mennonites have experienced state power in different ways. As a pacifist, minority group in 16th-20th Century Europe, Mennonites sometimes faced hostile governments and vested powers. As a non-violent global people today they continue to relate to nation states and powerful groups in unique ways.
In their history Mennonites have endured physical suffering, the contempt for human dignity, gross injustices and the squelching of dissent. But they have also envisaged ways to process and confront these human rights violations, advocating for the rights of others and for rights for themselves.
The planning committee invites submissions for research papers from a wide variety of disciplines. Papers should consider how Mennonites have been challenged by the question of human rights and state power, in ways such as:
VICTIMS - Mennonites have and continue to suffer torture, incarceration, exile and other forms of persecution at hands of abusive governments and powerful social groups.
BENEFICIARIES - Mennonites have gained from special privileges and in the process sometimes been complicit in the suffering of other groups; unknowingly or knowingly.
ADVOCATES - Mennonites have defended the weak and voiceless, calling for peace, inclusion and equality, sometimes in opposition to the state, sometimes in cooperation with the state.
Mennonites have not often used 'human rights' terminology. Indeed they have debated whether its language is too individualistic and coercive for an Anabaptist people. This conference asserts that the Mennonite experience can shed light on the issue of human rights, examining it from the perspective of a religious, non-violent and communitarian heritage.
Send short proposals and biographical sketches to firstname.lastname@example.org . Story tellers, artists, song writers and film producers are welcomed to make proposals too.
The planning committee includes: Ray Dirks (Mennonite Heritage Gallery), Judith Dueck (Canadian Museum for Human Rights), John J. Friesen (Manitoba Mennonite Historical Soc./Canadian Mennonite University), Wendy Kroeker (Canadian Lutheran World Relief), Royden Loewen (Chair in Mennonite Studies), Ismael Muvingi (Menno Simons College), Dean Peachy (Global College); Alf Redekopp (Mennonite Historical Society of Canada), Peter Rempel (Mennonite Central Committee Manitoba), Eliakim Sibanda (University of Winnipeg).