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Kauffman Museum to host ‘Great Trek’ scholar, filmmaker

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – The upcoming “Mennonites and Modernity” conference at Bethel College will bring visitors from different parts of the world, including Uzbekistan.

Thursday, June 24, Dr. Dilaram Inoyatova of the National University of Uzbekistan and Walter Ratliff, a journalist and religion scholar from Washington, D.C., will be the special guests of the Kauffman Museum-Ichan Kala Museum Partnership at a come-and-go reception at Kauffman Museum on the Bethel College campus from 7-8:30 p.m.

Inoyatova is a historian who has studied the modernizing impact of Mennonites in Central Asia in the Tsarist and Soviet eras. In the 1880s, Mennonite families emigrated from south Russia to Central Asia in what has been called the Great Trek.

Ratliff directed and co-produced the 2008 documentary film Through the Desert Goes Our Journey on the Great Trek, which showed during Bethel’s Fall Festival in 2008 and later on the local public television station, KPTS-Channel 8.

Ratliff has recently published Pilgrims on the Silk Road: A Muslim-Christian Encounter in Khiva (Wipf & Stock, 2010), which discusses the Great Trek in the context of 19th-century political rivalries and includes new evidence of Muslim-Christian cooperation. Pilgrims on the Silk Road is available for purchase in the Kauffman Museum store and Ratliff will sign books during the reception.

On June 24, Inoyatova and Ratliff will make brief remarks to the group at 7:30 p.m. The public is invited to meet these two scholars, who will be participating in the history conference at Bethel College June 25-26.

For more information on the reception, contact Kauffman Museum at 316-283-1612. For more about “Marginal or Mainstream?: Anabaptists, Mennonites and Modernity in European Society," see

Bethel College is a four-year liberal arts college affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. Bethel is known for its academic excellence and was the only Kansas private college to be ranked in’s listing of “America’s Best Colleges” for 2009 and one of only two Kansas colleges profiled in Colleges of Distinction 2009-10. For more information, see the Bethel Web site at

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