“If there’s something scholarly happening, we want to know about it!” says Kyle Gingrich Hiebert, co-coordinator of the Anabaptist Mennonite Scholars Network (AMSN).
The Anabaptist Mennonite Scholars Network connects students and professors within a network of networks. It fosters global connections in research and to provide a contact point for shared information and resources.
“For example, I’m at Conrad Grebel University College, Kitchener, Ontario, Canada,” says Kyle Gingrich Hiebert, “but I may not know what is happening at Canadian Mennonite University, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada – which is so close.” The network aims to fill in that gap.
Begun in the 1990s by Lydia Harder Neufeld at the Toronto Mennonite Theological Centre (TMTC), the original purpose was to help graduate students, particularly at the doctoral level, to connect with other Anabaptist-Mennonite scholars in their field.
“It was a response to the need for more broad networking beyond the narrow confines of traditional Swiss/Russian Mennonite scholarship as well as becoming more inclusive of women,” says Lydia Neufeld Harder.
Dormant for a while, the network has renewed energy under Kyle Gingerich Hiebert and Jamie Pitts (directors, respectively of TMTC and the Institute of Mennonite Studies at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary).
AMSN is not only for scholars in Anabaptist-Mennonite theology and history, but also scholars in any field who identify as Anabaptist-Mennonite and find linkages between their research and their faith.
Jamie Pitts first connected with AMSN as a PhD student new to the Mennonite family. Receiving newsletters from AMSN, he no longer felt alone. “I felt like part of a bigger conversation.” He wants to help other scholars in far-flung corners of the world to experience this kind of connection.
“AMSN (Anabaptist Mennonite Scholars Network) helps me to see how the faith and knowledge of global Anabaptist scholarly communities are practiced in various contexts and interconnected with each other,” says Hyejung Jessie Yum, a network member who represents Korean Anabaptist Journal.
Unlike the emerging MWC network GAHEN (Global Anabaptist Higher Education Network), which helps Anabaptist schools thrive, AMSN focuses on connecting scholars and fostering research.
AMSN receives some funding to maintain its webpage of links to events, journals and institutes; send a semi-regular e-newsletter; and host an annual round-table. Its members self-select based on their identity as an Anabaptist or their work on Anabaptist-related themes.
Research centres and institutions listed on AMSN’s site are mainly North American and European but its members want to see AMSN’s global presence to grow.
“We need to decolonize Anabaptist-Mennonite scholarship,” says Jamie Pitts. He hopes AMSN can strengthen relationships with scholars in Latin America, Africa, Asia, and serve as a tool for them to find resources and connections to further their work.
“We want to hear from people in MWC that are working in schools, editing journals, putting on events and conferences remotely related to Anabaptist scholarship. Get in touch, please! We want to make connection.”
AMSN is preparing a workshop for Assembly 17 in Indonesia.