Plenary Speakers

Dr. Hasia Diner

Dr Hasia Diner New York University Professor of History, Dr. Hasia Diner is Professor of Hebrew and Judaic Studies and History; Paul S. and Sylvia Steinberg Professor of American Jewish History; Director, Goldstein-Goren Center for American Jewish History; Director of Undergraduate Studies. She has authored over ten books and several articles on the intersection of gender, religion and 19th and 20th century immigrant communities in the United States. Much of her work centers on Jewish populations but she is also widely recognized for her work on gender systems and Irish and Italian immigrants and for her significant contributions to understanding the histories of women in ethno-religious immigrant communities. She was recently named one of twenty most influential historians in the United States.

Cynthia Peacock

Cynthia Peacock Cynthia Peacock, from Kolkata, India, worked for Mennonite Central Committee for 38 years in many capacities, including social work, women’s empowerment, relating to Mennonite churches in India, serving in the Global Family program, and helping with integrated development projects. Since 2010 she has been involved with Mennonite World Conference, currently serving as the South Asia representative for India and Nepal. She is a deacon in her United Missionary congregation (a member of MWC) and is the women’s leader of the Bharatia Christa Prochar Samily, a conference of 104 congregations. Peacock has two children and three grandchildren.

Dr. Sofia Samatar

Dr. Sophia Samatar James Madison University Assistant Professor of English, Dr. Sofia Samatar is of European Mennonite and Somali heritage. Her father, a Somali historian and writer, and her mother, a Swiss-German Mennonite school teacher, lived in several locations around the world. Samatar grew up a world citizen. She graduated from a North American Mennonite high school and college before earning a PhD at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She speaks several languages, including Arabic, Swahili and Zande, and specializes in contemporary African and Arabic literature. She is the recipient of various writing awards including The British Fantasy Award for Best Novel, the World Fantasy Award, the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer and the Crawford Award. Given her lineage and academic specialities, it is particularly fitting that she is one of our plenary speakers. She has been asked to draw upon her heritage and experience: Somali, Arab and Mennonite and will speak on the topic of “Crossing Ethnicities.”

This program has been funded in part by a grant from Virginia Foundation for the Humanities Virginia Foundation for the Humanities