Donald Kraybill on “The Amish”



The Amish population in the United States is just about a quarter of a million people today, but they are among the nation’s most recognized groups. The largest quiet, rural populations are in Ohio, Indiana and Pennsylvania, though the Pennsylvanian community has been diminishing in recent years. Our guest, Anabaptist scholar DONALD KRAYBILL and co-authors Karen Johnson-Weiner and Steven Nolt, report at least 40 different subgroups within the community after over 25 years of research. Their new book, “The Amish,” a history and analysis about the insular and private people, is based on hundreds of interviews of Amish people, oral history and archival material reveals. “There are 2,070 ways of being Amish,” according to Kraybill. As much as an Amish hallmark is to reject modern technology, the authors document the variances within the community. Kraybill founded and runs the annual conference, “Amish America: Plain Technology in a Cyber World,” which examines reconciling the ever-growing industrialization around the simple-living traditions of its people. Last week’s seminar topics included “Amish Values and Genetic Medicine,” “Reality TV and the Amish,” “Amish Teachers in Mexico.” “The Amish” was also a PBS American Experience film in 2012.

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