I am very happy to note a new co-authored article titled “A Survey of Contemporary Bai Craft Practices in the Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture, Yunnan, China.” It was jointly written with Wuerxiya (first author), C. Kurt Dewhurst (third author) and Cuixia Zhang (fourth author) and it appears in Museum Anthropology Review volume 16, numbers 1-2. This is the special double issue published in honor of Daniel C. Swan, as noted in an earlier post on Shreds and Patches. The article is based on work undertaken by a much larger bi-national team within the “Collaborative Work in Museum Folklore and Heritage Studies” sub-project of the broader “China-US Folklore and Intangible Cultural Heritage Project,” a collaboration (2007-present) of the American Folklore Society and the China Folklore Society. In particular, it describes work undertaken through the auspices of, and in partnership with, The Institute of National Culture Research at Dali University. Special thanks go to the Institute and its leadership.
I am very happy to note the publication of “Basketry among Two Peoples of Northern Guangxi, China” in the latest double issue of Asian Ethnology. This article is one that I co-wrote with my friends and collaborators Lijun Zhang (first author), C. Kurt Dewhurst (third author), and Jon Kay (fourth author) and it is based on work undertaken by a much larger bi-national team within the “Collaborative Work in Museum Folklore and Heritage Studies” sub-project of the broader “China-US Folklore and Intangible Cultural Heritage Project,” a collaboration (2007-present) of the American Folklore Society and the China Folklore Society.
I am a huge fan of Asian Ethnology, a wonderful open access journal now in its 81st year. Check out the huge volume that our paper is a part of, Find Asian Ethnology online here: https://asianethnology.org/ and also in JSTOR
I am happy to report that my article “Towards Wider Framings: World-Systems Analysis and Folklore Studies” was published in the Journal of Ethnology and Folkloristics earlier this year. Readers will have the judge the article for itself, but I can’t say enough good things about JEF. Its a wonderful open access journal doing wonderful work in, and at the intersection of, my two fields. Thanks to everyone at the Estonian Literary Museum, the Estonian National Museum, and the University of Tartu who work to make the journal a success.
While every year should be Native American heritage year, November is Native American Heritage Month and thus a good time to reflect on the ways that the recent American Folklore Society annual meetings in Tulsa centered Native American voices—scholars, teachers, artists, journalists, activists, tradition bearers, political leaders and others. Starting during my travels home, I tried, in a series of Facebook posts, to recall and evoke some of these Native America cultural workers who joined in the convergence of people and conversations that was #AFSAM22. I named this series of posts Indigenize #AFSAM22 because one meaning of that word is to “bring something under the control, dominance, or influence of the people native to an area” (Oxford Languages). I hope that the meeting participants I mention below—and other Native American individuals from Eastern Oklahoma who participated in the annual meeting—have influenced those who heard and engaged with them in Tulsa. Here in a single document are my ten posts with links.
1. Some who attended the meeting got to hear from, and maybe meet, JoKay Dowell (Cherokee/Quapaw/Shawnee/Peoria). Read about some her many environmental and social justice efforts here in the pages of the Cherokee Phoenix. Look up the Indigenous Environmental Network for info on the kind of pressing work that she helps lead.
2. Last night [Saturday 10/15/22] [Tulsa born and raised folklorist] Ross Peterson-Veatch won a pair of stickball sticks made by Cherokee National Treasure and ceremonial ground chief David Comingdeer. David took time away from his many duties to come to Tulsa for the stomp dance at Cain’s. If you do not already know it, the Cherokee Treasures program is like the ICH master programs found in Korea, Japan, and China and, if I can get away with saying it, it’s stronger than those in most US states. Folklorists should be studying it to improve public folklore practice in the US. Read about David and some of his work in Oklahoma Magazine. Wado David.
3. Some of you were in forum 05-06 in which Teresa Runnels (Sac and Fox/Muscogee/Shawnee/Caddo/Delaware) shared her work leading the Native American Resource Center of the Tulsa City-County Library. She does innovative work not only in classic librarianship but she organizes many programs that public folklorists would recognize as innovative and important. These include supporting Indigenous language activists. Here she is profiled as a Mover and Shaker in Library Journal.
4. Residential Schools are a major focus of concern among Native peoples. #AFSAM22 presenter and acclaimed artist Johnnie Diacon (Muscogee) discussed his work as the artist for Chilocco Indian School: A Generational Story, a graphic novel written by Julie Pearson-Little Thunder, based on oral histories with alumni, and published by Oklahoma State University Libraries. Find the novel linked to in the comments [now given here]. Learn about Johnnie’s work in an article in Cowboys and Indians. See it featured in the TV show Reservation Dogs.
5. If you’d ike to follow up on the Presidential Invited Lecture with Daryl Baldwin (Miami Tribe of Oklahoma), a new and accessible next step is his new article just out in The Conversation. [“Effort to recover Indigenous language also revitalizes culture, history and identity”]
6. Many of us were thrilled that the opening ceremony at #afsam22 concluded with the bestowal of the AFS Lifetime Scholarly Achievement Award to our friend, colleague, and mentor Charlotte Heth (Cherokee). During “This Land is Whose Land?” on Saturday morning she provided key understandings of the history of the Trails of Tears as well as hopeful glimpses of #LandBack today. Wado Charlotte! You can read Vicki Levine’s 2013 interview with Charlotte in the SEM Newsletter.
8. As the meeting began, Kalyn Fay Barnoski (Cherokee Nation, Muscogee) took time to share their recent curatorial and exhibition work at the Philbrook Museum of Art. Philbrook has very important collections of Native American art, much of it with rich documentation. Later, in a meeting panel on collections research by and for native communities, they spoke of what factors can help Indigenous students, scholars, and practitioners succeed in museum internships, fellowships, etc. Learn about their work and practice on their website.
9. The “This Land is Whose Land?” panel discussion also included Vicki Monks (Chickasaw), a widely published environmental journalist working in all media. One of the situations that she mentioned in her remarks concerned carbon black pollution on, and near, Ponca Nation lands in North Central Oklahoma. You can find her original Living on Earth radio story on this issue linked here. In the story you will hear from Ponca elders Thurman and Thelma and Buffalohead.
10. During the stomp dance hosted by the Duck Creek Ceremonial Ground last Saturday night [10-15-22], attendees were welcomed by several Native American political leaders, including Muscogee Nation Second Chief Del Beaver (Muscogee) and Cherokee Nation Tribal Councilwoman Dr. Candessa Tehee (Cherokee). Dr. Tehee spoke of the dance taking place at the place where the Cherokee and Muscogee Nations meet and how good it was for these nations to be gathering in fellowship in the heart of the city of Tulsa. Dr. Tehee is also Associate Professor of Cherokee and Indigenous Studies at Northeastern State University and a Cherokee National Treasure recognized for her work in finger weaving. Learn more about her work on one of her websites here.
More could be said and I regret leaving some valued participants out, but ten is a good number to evoke something of what took place when locals and non-locals, settlers, immigrants, and Native folks gathered in downtown Tulsa last month.
Social media is changing again and it seems like a good time to give Shreds and Patches more love and attention.
My collaborator and special issue co-editor Michael Paul Jordan and I are very pleased to announce the publication of a new double-issue of Museum Anthropology Review titled Studies in Museum Ethnography in Honor of Daniel C. Swan
I hope that everyone who follows along here at Shreds and Patches will go check out the new issue of Museum Anthropology Review. It is volume 15 (1) and there is so much good stuff in it. Find it here: https://scholarworks.iu.edu/journals/index.php/mar/issue/view/2064 Thanks to all of the peer-reviewers, authors, and IU Press staff involved in this issue.
If you are an academic author or aspire to be one, I hope that you will check out the series organized by Ilana Gershon and published on the Anthropology News site of the American Anthropological Association. As the AAA sets it up: “Ilana Gershon asked eight anthropologists for their approaches to the many daunting tasks of publishing an article in a journal, based on questions generated by Sandhya Narayanan.” It was fun to be one of those respondents and interesting to see what the whole panel had to say. Here are the items published to date. I will add to the list if it grows further. Special thanks to Ilana for producing the series and for including me.
I am very happy to share this guest post by Tim Lloyd.
The American Folklore Society’s annual meeting is the high point of the professional year for the Society and for many of us this is evidenced by the amount of time we spend discussing present and past meetings and by the intensity of some of those discussions. In the hallways, lobbies, and bars near the rooms in which AFS annual meeting sessions happen, and in living rooms, offices, and coffee shops back home, it’s common for folklorists to discuss, interpret, and rate or rank the most recent annual meeting in light of our experience there, and to compare that experience to our recollections of the way things used to be. Each of us rapidly builds a body of such recollections which, as we know, can form the foundation of professional beliefs.
One of the more frequent beliefs that I have heard about AFS annual meetings is customarily expressed in two parts: one, that in recent decades the number of sessions devoted to academic papers has decreased as a proportion of the program; and two, that paper sessions have been replaced on the program by workshops and forums devoted to public folklore, as that part of the field has grown. But is either of these beliefs supported by the data?
Luckily, there is a rich and easily available source of data to which we can turn to support or challenge these professional beliefs: the American Folklore Society collection in the Indiana University ScholarWorks (IUSW) open online institutional repository (https://scholarworks.iu.edu/dspace/handle/2022/9004). The collection is also accessible through the AFS-IU Library online portal Open Folklore at https://openfolklore.org/.
AFS staff and volunteers and Indiana University librarians worked together to create and populate this collection starting in 2009. It contains large back runs of the journals of AFS sections and of AFS newsletters and the more recent AFS Review; a collection of syllabi and teaching resources provided by Society members; reports and other publications from AFS-sponsored professional development consultancies and workshops; AFS annual reports; and indexes to the contents of the Journal of American Folklore from 1889 to 1994.
This means that extensive information about every AFS annual meeting is openly accessible online, offering an important way to track developments in folklore scholarship and public practice—and the timelines along which they first arose, since conference paper and session topics can evidence those trends well before they reach print.
Here is a brief report on a quick survey of just a bit of the annual meeting data contained in this collection.
Wanting to know more about the ways in which the “shape” of AFS annual meetings—as measured by the types of sessions that make up the program—may have changed in recent decades, I reviewed the programs from five sample meetings (the most recent “normal” one in 2019, plus every ten years before that for 40 years: 2009, 1999, 1989 [the second of the Society’s two centennial meetings], and 1979) and counted up the numbers of various kinds of sessions, in six categories:
Workshops or forums on non-public folklore subjects (as defined, on the fly, by me)
Workshops or forums on public folklore subjects (ditto)
Sessions to attend to some matter of AFS business
I’ve shown the numbers—and, more importantly, the percentages of each kind of session on that year’s program—in Figure 1, with the most significant percentage increases from the previous decade’s program shown in green and the most significant decreases in red. My tracking excluded all social events and all events held by non-AFS organizations (like university presses). I also did not include section business meetings in my overall tally, though I did count them separately and have included them on the spreadsheet to note the growth in the number of AFS sections over these decades.
My main takeaways from this quick look?
1. The percentage of paper sessions did decrease by about 22 percentage points during this 40-year period, most notably (I’m assuming for the moment) in the 2000s. (Note: “Paper sessions” includes those on all topics, including a small number—I’d say no more than 10% in any year—of paper sessions on public-folklore topics.)
2. This decrease has been slightly more than offset by increases in the percentage of workshops and forums of all kinds. Contrary to what I understand to be popular belief, since 2000 only a minority of those workshops and forums have covered public folklore subjects; that is, in 2009 and 2019, most of them were devoted to topics outside public folklore.
3. The greatest growth in the public-folklore workshop and forum part of the program, in fact, took place during the 1980s and 1990s. This makes sense, as this was the period when the field’s current public front was undergoing its initial periods of growth and development. (I believe that the first modern-day public folklore forum session at AFS was in Salt Lake City in 1978.) The percentage of these sorts of sessions continued to increase, though at a slower rate, in the 2000s and 2010s.
My smaller takeaways?
4. The percentage of AFS-sponsored or AFS business-related sessions increased most significantly in the 2000s. Having been around (and to some extent responsible) for almost all of those years, I’m not surprised.
5. The numbers suggest that the primary growth era for the AFS section universe was the 1980s.
And two smaller notes: Neither the number of media sessions nor that of plenaries showed much growth or decline during these 40 years. There were also three poster sessions at Boise in 2009, and one diamond session at Baltimore in 2019, but I didn’t include them in the spreadsheet because those numbers didn’t really seem material.
So on the basis of the work described here, it appears clear that over the last 40 years the percentage of the program devoted to sessions of academic papers has significantly decreased. It also appears clear that this decrease has been offset by an increase in the percentage of the program devoted to workshops and forums. But this increase is more complicated than it is widely believed to be, and appears to have two eras: one during the 1980s and 1990s that saw an increase in the number of public-folklore-related workshops and forums, and one that has taken place in the first two decades of the present century that saw an increase in the number of non-public-folklore-related (sorry for this infelicitous name) workshops and forums.
It might be pointed out that these decreases and increases could be attributed to patterns in the selections and choices made by the program committees who review, accept, and reject annual meeting proposals, rather than patterns in what prospective meeting attendees propose in the first place. However, the fact is that for many years the great majority of proposals have been accepted for annual meeting programs, which has the effect of taking those committees’ decisions largely out of this equation.
This is a small project, undertaken quickly with just a few data points from just five years of annual meetings. Please take it in the spirit in which I share it: as indicative rather than definitive. I undertook it because of my curiosity about whether perceptions of changes in the annual meeting over time matched what the programs would tell us, and because I wanted to carry out a small test of the utility of the AFS IUSW annual meeting collection for helping us answer questions about the history of the field.
The data—including abstracts of all AFS annual meeting presentations and sessions for the last several decades—exist in the AFS IUSW collection to support deeper and more extensive research. We could, for example, ask several forms of the “Why?” question about the data I’ve presented here, or examine in greater detail the topics of workshops and forums of all kinds looking for patterns of subject or theme. We could look more closely at the growth or decline over time of particular topics, approaches, sub-fields, or keywords in annual meetings generally. Or we might focus more tightly on every year in a decade to be able to craft a more complete picture of it, perhaps extending it forward, backward, or both (e.g., might there have been a “long 1980s” in folklore studies and if so, what was it and why does it matter?).
Thanks for your attention. I invite your responses and comments, but more emphatically I encourage you to pursue your own investigations using these remarkable, openly accessible online resources.
I am happy to note that my article “On Cultural Appropriation” has now been published in the Journal of Folklore Research. Right now, the article can be found in Project Muse (see https://www.muse.jhu.edu/article/783863), JSTOR (see https://doi.org/10.2979/jfolkrese.58.1.04) and (more esoterically) in EBSCOhost. In about a year, the paper will be freely accessible in the Indiana University open access (OA) repository in accord with IU OA policies.
Here is an abstract for the paper:
This article starts from the premise that cultural appropriation is a key concern for folklorists and ethnologists, as well as for many of the communities with which they engage and partner, but that it is also one that has received relatively little attention of a general conceptual sort. This is true despite the ubiquity of cultural appropriation discussions in popular media, public culture, and informal scholarly conversation. Drawing on the work of these fields, an ideal-type conceptualization of cultural appropriation is offered, one that situates it as one among a range of modes of cultural change. For cultural appropriation, the key neighboring modes are diffusion, acculturation, and assimilation. The article also briefly addresses cultural appropriation as it is often situated vis-à-vis conceptions of, and processes related to, cultural property and cultural heritage. This heuristic emphasizes the metacultural discourse that marks instances of cultural appropriation as well as the inequality often characterizing the parties to such episodes.
The paper is rather long as such things go. A bibliographic note got cut out of it before publication and I have posted that separately in the IU Open Access Repository. It (“Cultural Appropriation: A Review of the Literature in US Folklore Studies”) can be accessed directly here: https://iu.tind.io/record/3306.
Warm thanks to everyone who helped in the development of this paper, from the then-students, now-colleagues, who took Contesting Culture as Property with me in 2004 all the way up to the JFR editorial team, especially those people around Turtle Island and around the world who have shared their stories, experiences, insights, and battles with me.
I have been away from the project for some time, but I have resumed my journey through the programs of the annual meetings of the American Folklore Society. As discussed in my previous posts, my goal is to gain perspective on the relative presence and absences of work on Native North American studies topics within the AFS and by extension, among folklorists in the United States. The data for the first half of the 1990s is shown below. Participation in the meetings for this period is quite similar to that seen for the full decade of the 1980s.
Percentages (of Native North American-related) presentations for the 1980s as a whole was 2%, with a variation ranging between 1% and 4%. For the first half of the 1990s, the five year percentage was 3% with yearly ranges of 2%-5%. This small increase is primarily attributable to three factors that I identify in closing. The 1991 annual meeting in St. John’s was a joint meeting with the Folklore Studies Association of Canada and it seems clear to me that additional presentations by members of that peer-organization made the difference for that year. I do not do not see any specific factors accounting for the 3% in 1992, when AFS met in Jacksonville. As measured by presentation of papers and films, that meeting was large for a non-joint, non-bicentennial meeting. In contrast to 1992, the program for the 1993 meeting in Eugene shows that a very concerted effort was made by organizers to spotlight Native North America-related papers and topics. Seven panels (some were round-tables and thus not reflected in these counts) specifically related to Native North American issues were organized and several Native American individuals appeared on the program, particularly as guests for free-form discussion events. Finally, the 1994 meetings in Milwaukee were held jointly with the Society for Ethnomusicology and it is clear that presentations by ethnomusicologists on Native North American studies topics raised the total for this meeting in a way that was key. (The 1994 meeting was the first that I attended as a member of the AFS and I presented at that this meeting contributing to the N=18 shown below. It was at that meeting that I met my friend and collaborator Victoria Levine, although I knew her writings before then. With so many happy associations with the 1994 meeting, I am happy to pause here with it.)
I will finish the 1990s as soon as I am able.
Presentations on Non-Native American Topics
Presentations on Native American Topics
Percentage on Native American Topics
Presentations on Non-Native North American- and Native North American-Related Topics at the Annual Meetings of the American Folklore Society in the First Half of the 1990s (1990-1994)
I am a Ruth N. Halls Professor of Folklore and Anthropology at Indiana University. This site provides information on my museum, teaching, and research work, while also conveying some news and information relating to students and colleagues with whom I work and the projects on which we collaborate.