School of Social and Cultural Studies

Qualifications

BSc (Hons) (Lond), DPhil (Oxf)

Research Specialties

Complex societies; history of Anthropology, history and Anthropology; Mennonites in Europe and the Americas.

Biography

Dr James Urry is a graduate of University College, University of London [BSc (Hons)] and Oxford University [D.Phil]. After leaving Oxford he taught school for a year in Jersey and then moved to Australia to work at the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies in Canberra.

Later he taught in the Department of Prehistory and Anthropology at the Australian National University in Canberra before taking up a post in the Department of Anthropology at the Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand.

He has held visiting research fellowships at the Universities of Winnipeg and Calgary.

Dr Urry has taught a wide range of courses including introductory anthropology, topics on current ideas and approaches, politics, economics, religion and symbolism and advanced level studies dealing with complex societies and the history of anthropology.

He has also supervised masters and doctoral students.

Since the early 1970s, Dr Urry has carried out research among "Russian" Mennonites in Canada, research which has also involved visits to the United States, Russia and Ukraine and numerous publications.

Other areas of research and writing include aspects of the history of anthropology, especially British anthropology and the history of Australian Aborigines.

Dr Urry has published and reviewed widely in anthropology, history and related fields of scholarship and serves on a number of editorial boards.

Current Research

  • the study of the processes of transition and transformation of social and cultural groups (especially Mennonites) with special attention to modern, industrial social and cultural life

  • the development of anthropological institutions, ideas and concepts with particular reference to their historical contexts

  • the semantics of modern ideas and concepts and their critical analysis for understanding aspects of the life of past and contemporary communities

  • continuing work on a monograph on a Mennonite community in south-eastern Manitoba settled by immigrants from Russia and the Soviet Union

Recent Publications

Urry J, 'The Mennonite Commonwealth in Imperial Russia revisted', The Mennonite Quarterly Review, 84, 2, April (2010), pp. 229-247.Urry James, 'Wealth and poverty in the Mennonite experience: dilemmas and challenges', Journal of Mennonite Studies, 27 (2009), pp. 11-40.

Urry J, 'The reading worlds of Russlaender and Kanadier Mennonites: print, libraries, and readers in the origins of Mennonite creative writing', Journal of Mennonite Studies, 28 (2010), pp. 129-149.

Urry, James, None but saints: the transformation of Mennonite life in Russia, 1789-1889 (second printing with a new introduction). (Kitchener ON: Pandora Press, 2007), 386pp.

Urry, James, Time and memory: secular and sacred aspects of the world of the Russian Mennonites and their descendants (The 2006 Bechtel Lectures). Lecture 1: Time: the transcendent and the worldly. Lecture 2: Memory: monuments and the markings of pasts. Conrad Grebel Review, 25(1), (2007), pp. 4-62.

Urry, James, Context, cause and consequence in understanding the Molochna land crisis: a reply to John Staples. Mennonite Life 62(2) Fall, (2007) (online at http://www.bethelks.edu/mennonitelife/2007fall/urry.php).

Urry, James, Mennonites, Politics and Peoplehood. Europe - Russia - Canada 1525-1980. (Winnipeg, University of Manitoba Press, 2006), 400pp.

Urry, James, The ethnographicisation of Anglo-American anthropology: causes and consequences. Sites: a Journal of Social Anthropology & Cultural Studies, (n.s.) 3 (2), (2006), pp. 3-39.

James Urry, Nur Heilige. Mennoniten in Russland, 1789-1889 (translated by Elisabeth L. Wiens). Steinbach: Crossway Press, 2005; this source can be directly accessed at: http://researcharchive.vuw.ac.nz/handle/10063/730.

Urry, James, 'Anthropology's Homer: Michael Young's Malinowski [Book Review Essay]'. The Australian Journal of Anthropology, 16, 2, (2005), pp. 247-50.

Urry, James, 'Jandals', in Claudia Gross, Harriet D. Lyons and Dorothy A. Counts (eds), A polymath anthropologist: Essays in honour of Ann Chowning (Auckland: Department of Anthropology, 2005). pp. 245-46. (Research in Anthropology and Linguistics Monograph Series Vol. 6).

Urry, James, Bronislaw Kaspar Malinowski. New Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2004) (at http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/37731, doi:10.1093/ref:odnbb/37731).

Urry, James, 'Delbert F. Plett (1948-2004): a tribute', Journal of Mennonite Studies, 20, (2005), pp. 285-8.

Urry, James, 'Jandals', in Claudia Gross, Harriet D. Lyons and Dorothy A. Counts (eds), A polymath anthropologist: Essays in honour of Ann Chowning (Auckland: Department of Anthropology, 2005). pp. 245-46. (Research in Anthropology and Linguistics Monograph Series Vol. 6).

Urry, James, 'Review of Harder, John (ed.), From Kleefeld with love', Mennonite Quarterly Review, 79, 3, (2005), pp. 401-2.

Urry, James, 'David H. Epp: intellectual, spiritual, cultural leader 1861-1934', in Harry Loewen (ed), Shepherds, servants and prophets: leadership among the Russian Mennonites (ca. 1880-1960) (Kitchener, ON, Pandora Press/Scottdale, PA, Herald Press, 2003), pp. 85-102.

Urry, James, 'Dietrich Heinrich Epp: first editor of Der Bote 1875-1995', in Harry Loewen (ed), Shepherds, servants and prophets: leadership among the Russian Mennonites (ca. 1880-1960) (Kitchener, ON, Pandora Press/Scottdale, PA, Herald Press, 2003), pp. 103-115.

Urry, James, 'David Gerhard Rempel: an early academic Mennonite historian', in Harry Loewen (ed), Shepherds, servants and prophets: leadership among the Russian Mennonites (ca. 1880-1960) (Kitchener, ON, Pandora Press/Scottdale, PA, Herald Press, 2003), pp. 337-347.

Urry, James, 'La constitution du questionnaire [Notes and Queries on Anthropology]. Les premiers pas de l'anthropologie britannique', in Barnes, J. A., et al., L'enquête de terrain (Paris : Ed. La Découverte/M.A.U.S.S., 2003), pp. 65-88.

Urry, James, 'Review of Richard Handler (ed), Excluded ancestors, inevitable traditions: essays towards a more inclusive history of anthropology', The Australian Journal of Anthropology , 14, 2 (2003), pp. 278-279.

Urry, James, 'Review of Lawrence Klippenstein and Jacob Dick, Mennonite alternative service in Russia', Mennonite Life , 58, 1 (2003), http://www.bethelks.edu/mennonitelife/2003Mar/

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Memberships, Appointments and Other Work

  • Member of the Association of Social Anthropologists of the Commonwealth

  • Member of the Editoral Board for the Journal of Mennonite Studies

  • Member of the Siberian Mennonite Research Initiative