"She brought it to Canada in 1926": Material culture and the creation of a Russländer identity

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Date
2019
Authors
Klassen, Jenna R.
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Abstract
Throughout the 1920s, over twenty-four thousand Mennonites migrated to Canada from the Soviet Union in search of safety, security, and economic opportunity. When they were finally given the opportunity to seek refuge in Canada, this group of Mennonites, referred to within the disparate Canadian Mennonite community as the Russländer, had very few belongings to bring to their new home and limited ability to transport what they had retained. Four hundred-sixty of these belongings are preserved in the artefact collection of the Mennonite Heritage Village in Steinbach, Manitoba. Their survival for over a century, and some longer, may seem miraculous. However, these items have been intentionally preserved by Russländer immigrants and their children and grandchildren for decades. Examining Russländer migration narratives through memoir, artefact collection, and oral histories from Russländer descendants reveals that objects are embedded with memory and emotion, and are used by immigrants and their descendants to create ethnic identities.
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Mennonite, Immigration, Material culture
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