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Keywords

Boundaries; Obedience; Disobedience; Old Colony Mennonites; Bolivia; Ordnung

Abstract

Boundaries keep people apart just as they keep people together. Boundaries are social constructs made by man in order to maintain the natural order of things. The aim of this article is to elaborate on the social construct of boundaries and particularly acknowledge their dynamic character. Social and cultural boundaries are passable, changeable, and negotiable. Nonetheless, boundaries are fundamental to many peoples’ existence and survival as ethnic and cultural communities and must therefore be acknowledged as essential human needs. By focusing on the members of a conservative Christian community—Old Colony Mennonites in Bolivia—as they carry out practices in relation to the outside world, the article illustrates processes that help sustain the group’s boundaries towards the outside as well as processes that simultaneously challenge and to some extent transform these same boundaries.

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