A Conversation with Tom Davenport, an interview sponsored by the American Folklore Society and the AFS Oral History Project of Tom Davenport (Folkstreams) by Tom Rankin (Duke University) about his life and work. Tom Davenport received the 2018 Judith McCulloh Award for lifetime service to the field at the Buffalo meeting. This interview took place at the American Folklore Society's 130th Annual Meeting at the Buffalo Niagara County Convention Center, in Buffalo, New York, on October 18-20, 2018.
Palchik, Violeta; Decker, Adrienne; Eleuterio, Susan; Higgins, Lisa L.; Kolovos, Andy
Job-seeking for folklorists can be daunting. In this forum, chaired and moderated by a member of the AFS Graduate Student Section, a group of representatives from the Archives and Libraries, Folklore and Museums, Independent Folklorists’, and Public Programs sections will discuss jobs in their respective fields and answer career-related questions from attendees. The discussion will not have a formalized agenda but will instead take its direction from audience inquiries. Moreover, the forum format allows for two-way conversation; veteran folklorists will themselves have the opportunity to hear directly from job-seekers about the challenges presented by the 21st-century job market and come away with new ideas to improve hiring processes.
Two major innovators in digital cultural documentation meet for a conversation on goals, methods, frameworks, and business models. Michael Frisch, Professor Emeritus of the University of Buffalo and former president of both the Oral History Association and the American Studies Association, has recently created a consulting firm, Randforce Associates, to develop software for indexing and annotating audio and video documentation. P. Sainath received the 2007 Ramon Magsaysay Award (the “Asian Nobel”) for his “passionate commitment as a journalist to restore the rural poor to India’s national consciousness.” He is Founder-Editor of the crowdfunded, volunteer-sustained People’s Archive of Rural India.
As government funding tightens, folklorists are turning to the private sector for funding. However, we come up against funders who do not understand folklore or the value of funding folklore projects. Participate in a discussion with grantors from business, corporate, private, and family foundations about how to create partnerships for successful fundraising. How do we engage and inform potential funders about the impact of supporting folklore projects that benefit a diverse and inclusive audience?
This lecture presents results of a project on folk medicine among Latinx in Los Angeles in which 131 interviews were conducted with 49 individuals, more than half of whom were healers associated with botánicas. Contrary to a number of previous reports, research data reveal that the healers were not poorly educated, unsophisticated, or adversaries of biomedical care; that clientele were not exclusively Latinx; and that a number of long-standing assumptions in works on Latinx healing traditions should be reassessed. The present study of ethnomedical treatment offers insight into needs and concerns that could inform the healthcare profession in regard to one of the largest and most underserved populations in the US.
Richard Dorson was right seeing the antiquarians as the precursors of the study of folklore. Many of them recorded information on “traditions.” However, he did not really understand the rationale behind their work, mixed up in Tudor politics, especially the religious aspects. (The “first” work on folklore in English is an anti-“Puritan” tract.) When Herder and the Grimm Brothers came along in the 18th and early 19th centuries, there was already a body of lore in English which could be transferred to fit in with their ideas. The Grimm Brothers, and the “antiquary-folklorist” Thomas Wight are responsible for developing ideas about survivals, an idea to influence folklore and anthropology for 75 years.
P. Sainath, the former Rural Affairs Editor at The Hindu, where he forced public attention to India’s epidemic of farmer suicides, will discusses relationship between journalism, cultural documentation, and social justice. His current project, the People’s Archive of Rural India (ruralindiaonline.org) is a volunteer-sustained multimedia website documenting everyday life, cultural traditions, and socioeconomic and environmental challenges across India, with special attention to women’s labor. Among his many career awards are the 2007 Ramon Magsaysay Award (the “Asian Nobel”) and the first Amnesty International’s Global Human Rights Journalism Prize in 2000. His 1996 book, Everybody Loves a Good Drought: Stories from India’s Poorest Districts, was reissued as a Penguin Classic in 2012.
Bruce Jackson speaks about The B-Side: Negro Folklore from Texas State Prisons. A Record Album Interpretation, a production by the The Wooster Group, New York’s most celebrated experimental theater company. The B-Side is based on the classic LP, Negro Folklore from Texas State Prisons, based on Jackson’s 1964 field recordings. Peter Marks of the Washington Post called the production “ravishing,” and “a richly resonant auditory experience,” concluding that “the experience is history in melody, an a cappella song cycle that reveals how men sentenced to hard labor endured, forging bonds through music.” New York Times theater reviewer Ben Brantley named it one of the 10 best plays of the year. Jackson talks about the process of transforming his LP into theater with The Wooster Group, illustrating his presentation with photographs and audio and video clips.
Saylor, Dana L.; Delmonte, Andrew; Heffernan, Kevin
This workshop will inspire and motivate you to pursue your independent career or, for those already established, share new ideas. Creative entrepreneur Dana Saylor, Buffalo-based architectural historian, artist, preservation advocate and event planner, leads the session, with presentations by other talented and dynamic professionals. Topics include: small business types and basic finances; social media strategies, including how taking a stand can garner engagement with your desired audience; and why emotional vulnerability can be good business. With rotating breakout sessions, you’ll get face-time with each of the presenters and plenty of opportunity for lively discussion.
Here, AFS continues the custom of including a public interview with a senior member of our field at the annual meeting. In this session, Robert Baron and Ana Cara will interview John Szwed, professor of music and jazz studies and director of the Center for Jazz Studies at Columbia University, about his life and work. (Sponsored by the AFS Oral History Project.)
More than four decades have passed since the advent of the new folkloristics. Assessments of this revolution tend to narrowly focus on performance theory and not on whether the broader promises of this era have been realized, especially in areas of cross-disciplinary research. This address will look specifically at how attitudes toward historical scholarship have changed within the discipline of folklore and how we have constructed our own disciplinary histories during this postrevolutionary phase. Finally, the address will look to the future and whether we are reconstructing our past in our current graduate training in the discipline.
Folk songs have been at the heart of the study of folklore since its beginnings, and the scholarship on song is one of the finest achievements of the field. But in recent years interest in songs, especially songs in English, has waned among scholars in both folklore and ethnomusicology. Despite some continuing important and innovative work, and public fascination with the subject, song no longer seems central to folklore studies. I will argue that song is a cultural universal, indeed a cultural imperative, and exists as a system similar to kinship systems, language, and economic relations. This will be a plea to resume interest in songs, and will suggest some means by which folklore studies might again assume responsibility for understanding the role of song in human history. (Sponsored by the AFS Fellows.)
Shukla, Pravina; Goldstein, Diane E.; Griffith, James S.; Primiano, Leonard Norman
This forum features a conversation with prominent folklorists who will reflect on their respective careers, and meditate on the past and future of our discipline. The forum contributes to the intellectual history of folklore; it will be recorded, as past forums have been, for the AFS “Collecting Memories” Oral History Project. This year’s forum will focus on folk religion and belief, by looking at the “life of learning” and the choices, chances, and triumphs of participants Diane Goldstein, Jim Griffith, Elaine Lawless, and Leonard Primiano. Pravina Shukla will once again facilitate this exchange about their academic and public work, their fieldwork and festivals, and also their important involvement in our field and in our scholarly society over the past several decades. (Sponsored by the American Folklore Society.)
Some songs pertaining to the “música tropical” genre, or music exhibiting tropical rhythms from both the Pacific and Atlantic coasts, feature Afro-mestizo protagonists in their lyrics. My study explores the imaginaries constructing the subjectivities of Afro-mestizo men and women and posits that these gender constructions are different between the two sexes. Men tend to be depicted more harshly than women. Both, however, are depicted in a stereotypical and racist manner. My study incorporates feminist and critical race theories as well as postcolonial theories in the analy- sis and hermeneutics of the representation of Afro-mestizos in the lyrics of these songs.
Brady, Erika, Kruesi, Margaret, Primiano, Leonard Norman
Many years ago as a graduate student studying William Langland’s Vision of Piers Plowman, I came upon what was evidently a popular scatological riddle pertaining to a profound theological teaching. Since that time I have continued to ruminate over the role of humor—especially sexual and scatological humor—arising from within vernacular Catholicism. In this talk, I will consider the serious play of such forms of expression and their significance for folklorists concerned with the nature of belief in the sacred.