Royden Loewen


Imagine a complex academic book without a subtitle: straightforward, lucid, accessible. These qualities describe Simon Evans’ final word on Hutterites of the western plains of Canada and the United States. It’s an historical geography, distinctive from the more numerous social scientific studies of the Hutterites. It methodically traces the dispersion of an 1870s Dakota settlement into Manitoba and Alberta during World War I, and then into Montana and Saskatchewan after World War II, with small representations in Washington State and British Columbia. Along the way, Evans deepens his analysis and interlaces theological consideration, demographic change, ecological intrusion, marketplace engagement, political interaction, gender relations, and internecine differences with the geographer’s craft, spatial arrangement. Indeed, these various intersections make for a richly textured historical geography that no subtitle could capture. And they rely on Evans’ own expansive on-colony ethnography, rich map collections, and broad engagement with a multi-disciplinary secondary literature. In the process Evans gives us a fresh look at the Hutterites and produces a historical geography that does much more than document the Hutterite diaspora in the North American grassland. [First paragraph.]