John Eicher


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Paraguay’s oldest and largest Mennonite colonies are Menno Colony, founded by a group of voluntary migrants who moved from Russia to Canada in the 1870s and from Canada to Paraguay in the 1920s, and Fernheim Colony, established by a group of refugees who fled from Soviet Russia to Germany in 1929 and settled next to Menno Colony in 1930. In this lecture, John Eicher argues that the colonies remained socially and spiritually divided for the first twenty years of their existence because their migration stories were not mutually intelligible. On a broader level, Eicher suggests that all humans live inside group narratives that shape the way they understand time, space, good, evil, and reality itself. John P. R. Eicher is an assistant professor of history at Pennsylvania State University-Altoona. He received degrees from Goshen College and the University of Iowa and visiting fellowships from the Free University of Berlin, the University of Freiburg, and the German Historical Association (Washington, DC). His book, Exiled Among Nations: German and Mennonite Mythologies in a Transnational Age (Cambridge University Press, 2020), received the 2021 Dale W. Brown Book Award.