Congratulations to exhibition curator Alex Lichtenstein on the very successful opening, this evening, of “Photos in Black and White: Margaret Bourke-White and the Dawn of Apartheid in South Africa.” More than 130 students, community members, photography enthusiasts, faculty members, Mathers Museum boosters, and Mellon Innovating International Research, Teaching and Collaboration (MIIRT) conference participants converged on the MMWC from 4 to 6 pm today to see, and learn from, Alex’s exhibition, to discuss South Africa, past and present, and to hear from Alex and two special guests from South Africa–Dudu Madonsela, Chief Curator at the Bensusan Museum of Photography in Johannesburg, and leading contemporary photographer Cedric Nunn. Thanks to everyone who participated in the opening and who lent support to the exhibition and its associated activities.
If you missed the opening, or just want to go further with it, you can check out the companion website, attend the upcoming symposium or film series, and, for the truly ambitious, see the exhibition when it travels to South Africa next year. The exhibition can, of course, be seen at the MMWC throughout the rest of 2013.
Many things have been happening lately–so many that keeping up with them here has been difficult. Many good things have gone unreported and some bad current events (global and national, not personal) have gone un-commented upon. I am pleased though to celebrate the conclusion of the 2013 Summer Institute in Museum Anthropology. I was invited to join the institute for its last week and a half and to participate in its concluding symposium at the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) on the Mall in Washington. In the symposium, SIMA’s twelve graduate student participants presented the initial findings of their four-week research projects utilizing the (amazing) collections–both objects and archival materials–of the NMNH Department of Anthropology. The students came to SIMA from many different graduate programs and backgrounds and possessed a diversity of historical, ethnographic, topical, and theoretical interests. They did wonderful work and I learned a lot from their studies and from their careful and compelling reporting. While they have further to go, of course, with their projects, I think that it is pretty exciting to hear the results of four intensive weeks of research as the concluding act of that same four week process. Quite remarkable.
I am very appreciative of my continued association with this wonderful program. I am glad that I have been able to help it continue moving along so well.
SIMA will happen again next summer. Details will be posted here on the SIMA website in the months ahead.
Presented below are remarks prepared for a meeting of Indiana University Bloomington (IUB) Department Chairs and Academic Associate Deans hosted by the IUB Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs. The focus of the larger gathering was a campus-wide discussion of tenure and promotion issues, with a special emphasis on current draft revisions to campus-level tenure and promotion guidelines. The task assigned to me was to reflect on the place of new forms of scholarly communication in the tenure and promotion mix. Other speakers were recruited to address diversity, interdisciplinarity, and public scholarly engagement. Speakers were grouped into two person panels and allotted five (and only five) minutes for a statement. Ten minutes of discussion was scheduled on each theme following the two presentations.
Because it was a campus-wide event and because it was anticipated by the vice provost that my co-presenter Ruth Stone would speak about issues in the digital humanities, I endeavored to draw my examples from further afield. The brevity of the assignment precluded discussion of many of my favorite examples and many relevant issues (ex: the role of scholarly societies or issues of open access) were not raised at all. To help my listeners find their way to the conversations that I evoked, I offer my text here with the links that oral presentation could not facilitate.
There are countless resources available for the purpose of gaining an introduction to the subject of change in scholarly communication. One very reasonable and appropriate overview–inclusive of a call for wider discussion among researchers–is available in Karla L. Hahn’s (2008) “Talk About Talking About New Models of Scholarly Communication.”
My thanks go to Vice Provost Tom Gieryn for the opportunity to make this presentation.
. . .
While I will use a few examples, my task is to reinforce four general themes that you are probably already are carrying into discussions with your departmental and disciplinary colleagues—change, genres, processes, and metrics.
Change. As reflected in the draft guidelines, junior faculty are pursuing careers that bear less and less resemblance to those of their mentors. As with most forms of cultural change, there will be losses and gains attendant to these shifts. Regardless of our own hopes and fears, we have an obligation to engage with the shifts happening to us. A fringe benefit of moments of discontinuity is that they help us focus more intensively on our persistent core values. How we do peer-assessment and how impactfulness is achieved and assessed are very much in flux, but their centrality as values is not. Read more
I am very happy to be again visiting the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities. Over the weekend, I participated in a wonderful conference on the “Anthropology of Performance” organized by the industrious undergraduate students in the Department of Anthropology here. The conference included work in all four of anthropology’s four sub-fields, plus folklore studies and social psychology. The student presentations were outstanding. The number of soon to finish students reporting on nearly complete senior theses was amazing and the quality of their research and presentations was very impressive. Congratulations to the students and to the faculty and advisers who are supporting them.
Today I get to reconnect with my friends at the library here. I will be participating in a very promising event on “Open Research and Learning: Collaboration, Connections, and Communities.” The event includes an amazing group of people. David Ernst, Director of Academic Technology in the UM College of Education and Human Development will discuss open textbooks. Astronomer Lucy Fortson will discuss open data, and University of Minnesota Press Director Doug Armato will discuss open publishing projects at the press. Copyright librarian Nancy Sims–whom you should certainly be following on Twitter (@CopyrightLibn)–will be the moderator. I will be talking about the ways that open access projects foster richer forms of scholarly collaboration. I am really looking forward to it and I am thankful that the kind invitation from the anthropology students has allowed me to reconnect with the scholarly communications community at Minnesota. Thank you to all of the faculty and researchers who have signed up for today’s event. Information on the event is online here.
There is a lot going on these days. Here are a few things I am taking note of. I hope to check these projects and tools out more carefully soon.
The upcoming Digital Return workshop being organized by Kim Christen, Josh Bell and Mark Turin.
Peter Suber’s forthcoming book Open Access to be published in March by MIT Press.
The Annotum theme for WordPress–a means for building more journal functionality into WordPress and WordPress.com sites.
Anthropology Report, recently launched by Jason Antrosio
One last thanks to Ryan Anderson for his interview with me on open access issues. The final third was published today on Savage Minds. I hope that it proves useful to someone. The timing of the interview is great because I will be party to a couple discussions of scholarly communications issues at the American Anthropological Association meetings, which have already begun in Montreal.
In the session Digital Anthropology: Projects and Projections, I will be discussing library-scholarly society partnerships on the basis of my work with colleagues on the Open Folklore project. This panel is packed with wonderful colleagues and great projects. Thanks go to Mike Fortun for organizing it. It happens Sunday morning.
On Friday I will be part of a forum on The Future of AAA Publishing. I thank the AAA leadership for the invitation to participate in this gathering.
For everyone going to #AAA2011, have a great meeting.
Today, out of town folklorists started appearing around Bloomington for a series of events designed to rally the local troops and welcome the earliest of the visitors coming to Bloomington for the American Folklore Society meetings. I spent the early afternoon in a fruitful Open Folklore planning meeting, but my colleagues welcomed Dr. Fekade Azeze, Associate Associate Professor of Ethiopian Literature and Folklore, and Coordinator of the Folklore Graduate Programme, at Addis Adeba University in Ethiopia. USC Folklorist Tok Thompson moderated a discussion with Dr. Azeze at midday and then he delivered a lecture on customary dispute resolution in the afternoon. I made it to the talk and it was very stimulating material. Dr. Azeze described the customary legal system of two of the largest Ethiopian peoples and situated these practices in the contemporary context, describing efforts to study such systems as a means of indigenizing the national legal system, which is largely founded on non-Eithiopian principles and practices.
Immediately after the lecture, there was an opening reception for the Faces of Fieldwork exhibition curated by Pravina Shukla, Michael Lee, and Carrie Hertz and on exhibition at the Mathers Museum. The portrait photographs submitted by the contributing ethnographers were stunning, the exhibition was well mounted by the Mathers staff, and the reception was a nice opportunity to experience the exhibition and welcome guests to town for the meetings.
I had to get home for family responsibilities, by a departmental reception for early-arriving alumni (Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology) was held. I am sure that a good time was had by all.
Tomorrow things begin in earnest, with pre-conference tours both on-campus (IU research collections and archives) and off (Southern Indiana regional sights focusing on the limestone industry). The meeting will open formally tomorrow night, with the highlight being Henry Glassie’s plenary lecture and a big welcoming reception. I will spend the day in an AFS board meeting.
Safe travels and welcome!
Earlier I posted about the recent news from the Open Folklore project. One piece of the larger story was the news that the American Folklore Society, in partnership with the IU Bloomington Libraries, has made a nearly complete set of AFS conference programs and conference reports available for free online. These documents provide information on the annual meetings of the AFS going back to the society’s founding. There are still a few missing items to be found and added to the collection, but its almost all there and this is an important accomplishment. These documents are can be found via Open Folklore search and browsed in IUScholarWorks Repository.
Most importantly, these documents are a valuable resource to scholars. They are key historical documents, but they are also invaluable to those who need to know who studied what when?
Beyond their documentary value, the folklorists and ethnologists involved in the AFS should be proud of this accomplishment. Through collaborative partnerships and the deployment of some elbow grease, another worthy open access milestone has been met. Such efforts require labor and in-kind support, but they do not require a major grant, custom digital infrastructures, and outsourced service providers.
The last time AFS met in Bloomington was 1968. Studying the program for that meeting (which is now freely accessible in IUScholarWorks Repository and discoverable in Open Folklore Search), is very interesting. I cannot resist noting some highlights.
At that meeting, Bess Lomax Hawes showed her new film on the rhyming games of African American girls, Pizza Pizza Daddy-o. This is one of my absolute favorites and can be watched today online via FolkStreams.
Pizza Pizza Daddy-o was shown are the opening act for Richard Dorson’s AFS Presidential Address. The keynote was published under the same title that it had in the program “A Theory for American Folklore Reviewed.” This address was published in the Journal of American Folklore, where it can be found today via JSTOR.
With so many folklorists doing digital and computational work, it is interesting to note that one presentation on the program treated “The Use of a Computer in a Belief Collection.” That paper was by Samuel J. Sackett then of Fort Hays Kansas State College. That paper also went on to be published, in this instance in Western Folklore, where it can also be found via JSTOR. Think about it. Folklorists were doing computational work in the 1960s and presenting it at their meetings! Folklorists are digital humanities pioneers.
The program included many well-known names presenting on work that would go on to become canonical. Michael Owen Jones talked about Appalachian chairmaking, Richard Bauman theorized folklore and community, Kenny Goldstein spoke on the study of singer repertoires, Roger Welsch addressed on Nebraska architecture, Barre Toelken examined metaphor, Joann Kealiinohomoku explored Hopi arts, Dan Ben-Amos lectured on storytelling, William Wilson pursued Finnish nationalism, while Peter Furst looked at Huichol mythology, William Bascom tackled African Cinderellas, Daniel Crowley addressed diffusionist studies of African expressive culture, and Jan Brunvand treated Mormon jokes. It is exciting to think that so many of these scholars will have the opportunity to return, after the passage of 43 years, to Bloomington for another AFS meeting.
I will be 85 in 2054, so I guess that there is bit of a chance that I might also get to see a second AFS meeting in Bloomington. Whether meetings as we know them will exist then, is a topic for another post.
Soon a large group of folklorists, from the U.S. and from many countries, will be visiting my adopted home town of Bloomington, Indiana. The 2011 American Folklore Society meetings are returning to Indiana University for the first time since 1968. There is much history that could be recounted, but it seems very salient that 1968 is a year famous for its protests and revolutions. 2011 is shaping up as a revolutionary year as well. This convergence relates to the conference theme (which was chosen well over a year ago)–Peace, War, Folklore.
How did the conference planners come to select this theme? Its a timely one and, as the program it prompted shows, a fruitful one. The immediate inspiration came from a desire to tie in to a semester-long program at Indiana University (organized by the College of Arts and Sciences) called Themester. As the name suggests, a themester is a semester theme that provides a basis for campus-wide activities, courses, and programs. At IU the Themesters happen during fall semesters. The theme for 2011 is Making War, Making Peace.
It is exciting that the AFS meetings can stand out as one of the big Themester events for 2011. The Themester program maintains a blog and the two most recent posts are by members of the AFS planning committee. In his post, conference chair Michael Dylan Foster explains the conference theme in light of folkloristics on the one hand and Themester on the other. In a second post, Jon Kay, Director of Traditional Arts Indiana and a member of the conference committee describes a TAI-organized, Themester-supported exhibition on the art of Gustav Potthoff, a man who paints to preserve and convey personal memories of the horrors of war and the prisoner-of-war experience based on his internment during World War II, during which he was among those forced to build the notorious “bridge over the River Kwai.”
To learn more about Themester at IU, see the program website. Thanks go to the Themester leadership for its engagement with the 2011 AFS meetings. (Public conference events relating to the Themester are listed here.)