Mike Driedger is a widely acknowledged expert on European Anabaptists and Mennonites from the 16th to the early 19th centuries. His revised and published dissertation on the Mennonite minority in Lutheran-dominated Hamburg in the 17th century (Obedient Heretics) was short-listed for the 2003 Wallace K. Ferguson Book Prize of the Canadian Historical Association. After establishing his teaching career, he worked in the late 2000s on several projects that resulted in numerous essays, including several overviews of Anabaptist and dissenter historiography for audiences of early modern historians and students, as well as two longer texts: 1) a co-authored book that provides an important reinterpretation of Anabaptist rule in the early 16th-century city of Münster (a case study that is often cited – even in contemporary terrorism studies – but is understood poorly by Reformation historians and most other commentators alike); and 2) a co-edited essay collection featuring the latest in scholarship on early modern Anabaptism. In recent years his research project on the important and even leading (but now largely forgotten) role that many Mennonites played in the Dutch high Enlightenment and Dutch revolutionary activity of the 1780s and 1790s has won him funding from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) (2007) and the SSHRC (“Mennonite revolutionaries: religion, enlightenment and radical politics in early modern Holland,” 2010-2013). He has recently presented at conferences in Amsterdam, Groningen, London, Jerusalem, and Utrecht.
For the “Amsterdamnified!” project Driedger will play several roles. First, as the project’s expert on both Mennonites and the later Enlightenment, he will provide a broadening and long-term perspective. Secondly, for his research on his most recent SSHRC project on Mennonite revolutionaries Driedger developed significant knowledge and skills in tracking intellectual, business and family networks in the early modern Dutch Republic, and he has published several essays and presented numerous papers on Mennonite associational activities in the 17th and 18th centuries. He has already done significant preliminary research on late 16th-century and 17th-century Dutch dissident publishers, ground-work that will help the new collaborative research project get off to a quick start. Thirdly, he has published several articles/book chapters that examine the entanglements and structural parallels between early modern Jews and Mennonites. This work includes an essay on Collegiant-Mennonites in Spinoza’s immediate circle in the 17th century. Finally, he has spent considerable time in the last three years developing skills for the use of digital analytical and visualization tools (e.g., tools for text analysis, timeline construction, spatial and network mapping, genealogical charting). As part of this work he has developed a Dutch “stop-word” list that includes early modern Dutch spelling word variants; this tool will make possible the keyword analysis and visualization of key digitalized texts. Driedger will coordinate the database and online components of the project.