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AFS Executive Board Issues Arizona Statement

[As noted in today’s AFS email newsletter] After a period of discussion and review, the American Folklore Society‘s Executive Board [on which I serve] has issued a public statement on recent Arizona immigration legislation. The Society will distribute this statement to relevant public officials and bodies in Arizona, and to other learned societies.

The statement reads:

The American Folklore Society, the US-based professional association for the field of folklore studies, with a membership of 2,000 people and institutions, and an annual meeting that draws more than 700 participants from around the world, has historically supported policies that prohibit discrimination based on ethnicity, gender, national origin, race, religion, or sexual orientation, and our field has long been concerned with the well-being of immigrant populations.

The Executive Board of the American Folklore Society takes notice of Arizona Senate Bill 1070, requiring all local law enforcement officials to investigate a person’s immigration status when there is a reasonable suspicion that the person is in the United States unlawfully, regardless of whether that person is suspected of a crime. We also take notice of Arizona House Bill 2281, that prohibits public schools in the state from offering, at any grade level, courses that advocate ethnic solidarity or cater to specific ethnic groups.

More than a century of research in the field of folklore studies (and in other fields in the humanities and social sciences) has detailed the cultural, political, and social impact of discrimination based on ethnicity, national origin, and race.  Based on that research, the Executive Board of the American Folklore Society considers these laws just identified, and the ways they may be implemented, to be discriminatory.

The Executive Board of the American Folklore Society resolves that the Society will not hold a scholarly conference in the State of Arizona until such time that Arizona Senate Bill 1070 and Arizona House Bill 2281 are either repealed or struck down as constitutionally invalid and thus unenforceable by a court.

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