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Posts from the ‘American Folklore Society Business’ Category

Fieldwork: Highlights from the Basketry and Architecture Group

I have been delayed in finishing up the series on the December 2017 trip to China that colleagues and I undertook. I am happy to return to the series here. Earlier posts described sites visited in Beijing (1, 2, 3, 4, 5), partnership activities in Nanning (6, 7) and the contexts of our fieldwork in Nandan County (8). In this post I quickly highlight some of the particularly exciting moments in the fieldwork of the research team that was focused on local Baiku (White Trouser) Yao basketry and vernacular architecture. (More on the textile group later.)

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A portion of Manjiang village, a Baiku Yao community, viewed from above. December 14, 2017. Photograph by Jason Baird Jackson.

Undoubtedly, we will always remember our time with Li Guicai in Huaili village. We spent two days with him as he made an elaborate and beautiful bamboo basket for sticky rice. We video recorded nearly every moment of the making of this basket over the course of two work days in which Mr. Li worked nearly continuously. His skill and industriousness left of speechless. After the basket was complete, he offered us an rich interview on his life and the history of his work as a maker of baskets. Generously, he sold us the basket that we documented with him and it is now in the collections of the Mathers Museum of World Cultures. For my friends who know about the river cane basketry of the Southern United States, Mr. Li’s basket was made with the same basic double weave techniques found in the baskets of the Cherokee and other indigenous groups.

With Mr. Li, we began to learn about how baskets are made among the Baiku Yao. In the households of two of his neighbors, we learned something of how baskets are used. Two families permitted us to spend time in their homes and inventory all of the baskets owned and used in their households. Inventorying and photographing all of these baskets, we were then able to ask questions about the names of these basket types as well as learn the range of uses to which they were put. This process helped us learn about widely used basket types but also extremely specialized basket forms that we did not previously knew existed. For instance, we documented a type of basket used as a body form for pressing pleats into a newly made women’s skirt. The diversity of baskets in use in this community is remarkable and we are very appreciative of the families who generously welcomed us for this strange but instructive exercise.

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Removing the straps that have tied a new pleated skirt in Baiku Yao style around a bamboo pleating basket in a Huaili village household. December 17, 2017. Photograph by Jason Baird Jackson

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In course of a household basketry inventory, Lijun Zhang poses with the slip of paper used in photographs of the 66th basket documented. December 17, 2017. Photograph by Jason Baird Jackson

Having learned about basket making and basket use, we also sought to better understand the contemporary economics of basketry. A highlight of this inquiry was time spent with Mr. Li Guozhong. This younger Mr. Li is a basket trader from a family of Baiku Yao basket makers. While he buys and sells locally made baskets, most of those that he sells at his stall in the Lihu town market on market day are purchased instead from middlemen in Guizhou province and transported back across the provincial border by Mr. Li to Lihu for sale to Baiku Yao and other buyers in the local market. Despite our interfering with his sales, we were able to spend the morning on market day with him at his market stand. We inventoried every type he had on offer, recording the local name for the basket type, the price, its basic use, and its local or Guizhou origins. At the conclusion of our discussions with him, I purchased a full set of these baskets for the Mathers Museum of World Cultures. A full account of the collection will come in our research writings later, but for now I note a few of the particularly unusual types that we purchased. One such item is a bamboo basket woven around a ceramic pot that hot coals can be placed and carried in. Such a basket is used as a brazier to keep an individual or small group warm while seated around it. We saw just such a basket in use elsewhere in the Lihu market. Similarly noteworthy are a pair of baskets used by a weaver to hold a shuttle (on one side of the loom) and spent spools (on the other side) while weaving. Such baskets are attached to the loom on both sides of the weaver’s seat. We saw such baskets on the household looms encountered throughout the Baiku Yao villages.

On the architecture front we documented basketry woven gates, house screens, and two types of above ground (on stilts) granaries used by Baiku Yao people. One of these—round in shape—features heavy bamboo basketry walls.

These highlights evoke just a portion of the rich experiences that the basketry and architecture team had during our time among the Baiku Yao people. My colleagues and I feel tremendous appreciation for everyone who hosted and helped us during our visit. Our admiration for the Baiku Yao people and their way of life is very heartfelt.

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The sticky rice basket made by Mr. Li Guicai, documented by the research team, and added to the collections of the Mathers Museum of World Cultures. December 16, 2017. Photograph by Jason Baird Jackson.

Fieldwork: Introduction (12/13-18)

Skip ahead six paragraphs (bypass those marked with an hash mark #) if you want to go straight to the start of the fieldwork stories. If you would like to know why my colleagues and I were in China doing fieldwork, start here at the beginning. (After this post, I will do one or two more with some fieldwork highlights.)

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Manjiang village, a community within the Nandan Baiku Yao Ecomuseum. December 14, 2017. Photograph by Jason Baird Jackson.

# The China-US Folklore and Intangible Cultural Heritage Project is a binational collaboration linking the China Folklore Society and the American Folklore Society. It has been underway formally since 2007 and has included multiple project phases and, in these phases, various sub-projects. A wide range of funders have supported the project and its work and a great number of Chinese and American scholars and practitioners have participated in its activities. Among U.S. participants, special attention is often given to the Henry Luce Foundation, which has been particularly generous in supporting several phases of the project (Lloyd 2017).

# Two sub-projects occurring in two different phases of the project have a specific museum focus. Between 2013 and 2016, a sub-project titled “Intangible Cultural Heritage and Ethnographic Museum Practice” brought together six museums of ethnography—three from the United States and three from Southwest China. These museum partners organized two “Forum on China-US Folklore and Intangible Cultural Heritage” events, pursued professional exchanges of staff members, traveled together to visit local communities in the home regions of each museum, and undertook a joint exhibition and catalogue project. The resulting exhibition—Quilts of Southwest China has been touring the United States. The bilingual catalogue is distributed in the United States by Indiana University Press. These are just the formal highlights of the project. A wide range of spin-off projects and collaborative relationships also arose from this joint work (Dewhurst 2017; Du 2017; Indiana University 2013; Lloyd 2017; MacDowell 2017; MacDowell and Zhang 2016; Zhang 2017).

# A new phase of the larger project began in 2017 and it also includes a museum-focused sub-project. The new project builds on relationships and experiences arising in the preceding effort. Between 2017 and 2019, the “Collaborative Work in Museum Folklore and Heritage Studies” sub-project is bringing together researchers from the three U.S. museums (Mathers Museum of World Cultures, Michigan State University Museum, Museum of International Folk Art) with colleagues affiliated with the Anthropological Museum of Guangxi (AMGX), as well as that museum’s partners in two local ecomuseums: the Nandan Baiku (White Trousers) Yao Ecomuseum and the Sanjiang Dong Ecomuseum.

# The workshop (discussed in posts 6 and 7) was another formal part of the project, but the most crucial activity is ethnographic fieldwork in two communities—those associated with the two ecomuseums in Nandan and Sanjiang counties in Northern Guangxi. The December 2017 trip was for the first of four fieldwork efforts. On this trip, our local hosts and partners were the staff at the Nandan Baiku Yao Ecomuseum.

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A pet bird in a basketry cage in Huaili village. December 14, 2017. Photograph by Jason Baird Jackson.

# In a Chinese context, an ecomuseum is a local museum framework that encompasses a community or group of communities, often associated with a single ethnic group or “nationality.” In Nandan County, the Nandan Baiku Yao Ecomuseum is embraces three contiguous villages near the town of Lihu. These three villages are situated within a wider area where “White Trouser Yao” people reside. White Trouser Yao is a designation for a particular group of Yao people distinguished by the white knicker-style pants worn as part of local men’s dress. Ecomuseums are somewhat hard to explain in a North American context because they are not limited to a fixed museum building (although they often include gallery spaces and other buildings used for museum functions). In formal terms at least, an ecomuseum is a way of characterizing an entire community or group of communities. The ecomuseum framework then becomes a organizational strategy for cultural heritage activities, including documentary work, cultural preservation activities, and perhaps also cultural tourism. The closest analog in the U.S. would be the situation found in some Native American communities where a “tribal museum” may have a museum building but may also facilitate a range of cultural preservation activities throughout the community. Wikipedia characterizes ecomuseums as follows:

An ecomuseum is a museum focused on the identity of a place, largely based on local participation and aiming to enhance the welfare and development of local communities. Ecomuseums originated in France, the concept being developed by Georges Henri Rivière and Hugues de Varine, who coined the term ‘ecomusée’ in 1971.[1] The term “éco” is a shortened form for “écologie”, but it refers especially to a new idea of holistic interpretation of cultural heritage, in opposition to the focus on specific items and objects, performed by traditional museums.

The nature and potential of ecomuseums is a key research concern of our partners at the Anthropological Museum of Guangxi (more on that later).

In a few final post or two, I will offer some highlights of our fieldwork experience. Here I explain our topic and circumstances.

While in Nandan County, the project participants stayed in rooms connected to the offices of the Nandan Baiku Yao Ecomuseum. This offered our group the opportunity to reside in the village cluster where the museum is centered without necessitating staying spread among various host families. The simple guest rooms at the museum were created with this sort of visiting research use in mind. The arrangement meant that visitors and locals could interact meaningfully from early in the morning to late in the evening without being a burden to local families nor introducing the disruption and social separation that would have accompanied staying in a hotel distant from the communities at the center of the research. He Jinxiu, a Baiku Yao woman who is active in the work of the museum, a civic leader in the community, and a noted textile artist, was engaged to cook for the visitors with the help of a younger woman in her family and another younger woman Li Xiuying who is also a noted local textile artist. This arrangement was very appropriate to local norms and was generously arranged for by the local museum staff and supported by the AMGX. I know that the other American participants join me in expressing deep appreciation for the generous hospitality extended to us by all of our partners in the project and by the members of the contiguous villages of Huatu, Manjiang, and Huaili in which the ethnographic investigations were undertaken.

Over the course of the research visit, the participants broke into three teams. Two of these teams focused on the nexus of textile arts and cultural heritage practices that are at the center of the project. These two research teams were made up of researchers from the American museums, from the AMGX, and from the Baiku Yao ecomuseum. Work by these teams was pursued in a mixture of English, provincial Mandarin, and the local Baiku Yao language.

One of these two teams focused on fabric arts; the other focused on bamboo basketry and the related practice of incorporating woven bamboo into architectural structures such as wall screens, fences, and basketry-walled granaries. The fabric arts group documented weaving practices, indigo dying, embroidery, the making and use of clothing, and silk production. The basketry group was able to document the making of an elaborate basket from start to finish (in photographs, video, notes, interviews), inventory baskets found in two households, and document over fifty basketry types in active use. This group also interviewed a basket trader, recording the full range of types in his inventory with names, prices, uses, and other data.

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Bamboo harvested and stored for use in basket making at the home of Li Guicai in Huaili village. December 14, 2017. Photograph by Jason Baird Jackson.

The third project team, comprised of members of the AMGX staff with assistance from the Baiku Yao ecomuseum staff focused on documenting the work of the project as a whole, with the goal of being in a position to produce articles and documentary video chronicling the work of the international partnership. The three American museums also each made collections during the course of this work.

Much was learned and many questions for future research have been identified. The research concluded with travel to Nanning and, for the Americans, home to the US beginning on the 18th. In final post(s) I will share a richer glimpse of Baiku Yao cultural life and the people whom we we met.

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Jon Kay (R) and Li Guicai (L) at Mr. Li’s home in Huaili village. December 14, 2017. Photograph by Jason Baird Jackson.

References Cited

Dewhurst, C. Kurt. 2017. “Building Connectivity: China-US Folklife Collaborations.” In Metafolklore: Stories of Sino-US Folkloristic Communication, edited by Juwen Zhang and Junhua Song, 189-98. Guangzhou: Sun Yat-sen University Press.

Du, Yunhong. 2017. “Ten Years: China-US Museum Collaborations in Retrospect.” In Metafolklore: Stories of Sino-US Folkloristic Communication, edited by Juwen Zhang and Junhua Song, 214-18. Guangzhou: Sun Yat-sen University Press.

Indiana University. 2013. “IU’s Mathers Museum One of Three U.S. Institutions to Collaborate with Chinese Museums.” Accessed January 16. 2018. http://archive.news.indiana.edu/releases/iu/2013/11/mathers-museum-collaboration.shtml

Lloyd, Tim. 2017. “The Inside Story of the AFS China-US Project.” AFS News. June 12, 2017. http://www.afsnet.org/news/349609/The-Inside-Story-of-the-AFS-China-US-Project.htm

MacDowell, Marsha. 2017. “Reflections on Collaborations: The Quilts of Southwest China Project.” In Metafolklore: Stories of Sino-US Folkloristic Communication, edited by Juwen Zhang and Junhua Song, 199-207. Guangzhou: Sun Yat-sen University Press.

——— and Lijun Zhang, eds.The Quilts of Southwest China. Nanning: Guangxi Museum of Nationalities and Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Xie, Mohua. 2017. “My Two Stories.” In Metafolklore: Stories of Sino-US Folkloristic Communication, edited by Juwen Zhang and Junhua Song, 208-13. Guangzhou: Sun Yat-sen University Press.

Zhang, Lijun. 2017. “My Involvement in the Museum Exchange Projects.” In Metafolklore: Stories of Sino-US Folkloristic Communication, edited by Juwen Zhang and Junhua Song, 221-27. Guangzhou: Sun Yat-sen University Press.

After the Workshop, Before the Fieldwork (12/12)

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A photograph of the project team and special guests on the steps of the Anthropological Museum of Guangxi in Nanning. December 12, 2017. Photograph courtesy of the Anthropological Museum of Guangxi.

This is the seventh in my series of posts reporting on collaborative work and travel in China during December 2017. The first five posts (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) dealt with preliminary activities in Beijing, while the last (6) post focused on the Workshop on Ethnographic Methods in Museum Folklore and Ethnology held in Nanning at the Anthropological Museum of Guangxi (AMGX) on December 11-12, 2017.

As I noted previously, the workshop together with fieldwork (discussion forthcoming) in Nandan County, were the primary activities for this trip. When the workshop concluded, two small events took place before our departure for Nandan the next day. As I noted previously, the research team met in a smaller group format to discuss plans for the work. Those discussions involved participants from the AMGX, the Mathers Museum of World Cultures, the Museum of International Folk Art, the Michigan State University Museum and most-importantly, from our hosts in Nandan County, the Baiku Yao Eco-Museum.

Prior to these practical discussions, a small ceremony featuring remarks by Director Wang Wei of the AMGX and by American Folklore Society Executive Director Tim Lloyd (whose own trip intersected for the afternoon with ours). At this gathering, successful past projects were evoked and enthusiasm for the new projects that we were then beginning was conveyed. The three U.S. museums also bestowed gifts of handmade objects from New Mexico, Michigan, and Indiana upon the AMGX and received wonderful Zhuang brocade textiles from Guangxi to add to their own collections. The exchange of such gifts has become a meaningful moment in each gathering linking the American and Chinese partner museums since 2013.

As is also customary, a group photograph was taken. For the wider contexts for our work in China within the American Folklore Society and the China Folklore Society, see this overview story on the AFS website.

Don’t Miss the Quilts of Southwest China Exhibition Opening at MMWC

While the coming week will be diverse and full as always, I have one big hope–that many friends, colleagues, campus citizens, and community members will come out for the opening of Quilts of Southwest China. The exhibition opens next Saturday (January 21, 2017) from 2-4 p.m. This is a project that we (a big, bi-national we) have been working on since 2013. If you would like to learn more about the project, you can also come out on Friday at noon for a talk (“Curating Quilts of Southwest China”) by co-curator Lijun Zhang of the Guangxi Museum of Nationalities. (Lijun is also a research associate of the MMWC and an IU Ph.D. graduate).

I give here the invitation (everyone is invited!). Below the invitation, I share some links for more information on the exhibition.

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Read about Quilts of Southwest China in the Bloomington Herald Times.
Read about Quilts of Southwest China on the Art at IU Blog.
Purchase the Quilts of Southwest China catalogue at the MMMWC store or from the IU Press.

See you at the museum!

CFP: Unfinished Stories: Folklife and Folk Narrative at the Gateway to the Future

Unfinished Stories: Folklife and Folk Narrative at the Gateway to the Future

The 2016 Joint Meeting of the American Folklore Society and the International Society for Folk Narrative Research

October 19-22, 2016

Hyatt Regency Miami, Miami, Florida, USA

The joint meeting of the American Folklore Society (AFS) and the International Society for Folk Narrative Research (ISFNR) will bring together more than 800 US and international specialists in folklore and folklife, folk narrative, popular literature, and related fields to exchange work and ideas and to create and strengthen friendships and working relationships.

The meeting will feature a number of plenary lectures as well as panel and forum presentations of work by folklorists and their allies in 14-17 concurrent sessions for four days. In addition, participants may register for workshops and tours that will offer an introduction to some of Miami’s cultures and communities.

Prospective participants may submit proposals for papers, panels, forums, films, and diamond presentations or propose new presentation formats. Proposal submission begins February 1 and ends March 31. Presentations on the theme are encouraged but not required.

Proposals will be reviewed by a committee of ISFNR members and of folklorists who live in the region hosting the meeting. AFS will send notification of acceptance or rejection for the meeting program in early June and post an online preliminary program schedule by July 1.

You can find more information about the meeting, including instructions for submitting proposals, beginning February 1, 2016, at http://www.afsnet.org/?2016AM.

Theme: Unfinished Stories: Folklife and Folk Narrative at the Gateway to the Future

Throughout its history, Florida has served as a sustained point of cultural convergence and exchange. Its tropical climate, burgeoning economy, and geographic proximity to the Caribbean and Latin America have influenced its cultural identity. South Florida was shaped by early migration from the United States and Caribbean Islands, as well as influxes of political refugees during the second half of the 20th century. Miami, known as the “Gateway of the Americas,” is now perceived as one of the largest and most significant Latin American and Caribbean cities. As Miami continues to evolve through cultural synthesis, it serves as a leader in terms of its transnational identity and experiences.

In addition to being termed a “Gateway,” Miami has also been described as a “City of the Future.” As such, it offers inspiration for multiple perspectives on the future development of folk narrative and folklife, both within the region and in larger contexts. Relevant topics include transnational communities, cultural synthesis and creolization, the impact of the digital revolution on folk culture, narratives about land and place, traditional responses to climate change, and much more. Conference participants may reflect on these unfinished stories as they appeared in the past and also consider the future of our fields, including emergent theories, methodologies, and ethics.

The organizing committee invites participants to explore the narrative dimensions of their work, regardless of topic.

Contact info:

Lorraine Walsh Cashman
American Folklore Society
Eigenmann Hall, Indiana University
1900 East Tenth Street
Bloomington, IN 47406
812-856-2422; fax: 812-856-2483
www.afsnet.org
lcashman@indiana.edu

Joanna Ella
Secretary
International Society for Folk Narrative Research
www.isfnr.org
jella@gwdg.de

AFS “Folklore and Museums Section” Founded, AFS Members (and Non-Members too) are Welcome to Join

I am happy to note here that the Executive Board of the American Folklore Society has endorsed a proposal put forward by the Folklore and Museum Policy and Practice Working Group to establish a Folklore and Museums section within the society. The section came into existence as of the Executive Board’s November 2014 meeting in Santa Fe. I am very pleased to serve as the new section’s first convener and to invite everyone with an interest in the intersection of museum practice and folklore (/folklife/ethnology) to join the new section.

As noted in the call for members on the AFS website:

the Folklore and Museums Section exists to foster communication and cooperation among museum-oriented folklorists, to advance the contribution of folklore studies scholarship and practice in museum settings, and to articulate museum-oriented folklorists with other colleagues, institutions, and organizations in the museum sector. The section aims, whenever possible, to cooperate with other sections of the American Folklore Society and with peer-organizations in the field.

The public web home for the new section can be found online here: http://www.afsnet.org/?page=MuseumSection and the member’s group space is accessible to members who are logged into the AFS website.

While I am very eager for all interested colleagues to join AFS, I want to note that the AFS has a free “Section Only” membership category by which non-AFS members can sign-up with sections such as the new Folklore and Museums section. This might be of particular value to non-folklorists who wish to keep up with the section’s work. Information on the Sections Only “membership” is available on the Membership Categories page of the AFS website. There is no cost to join the Folklore and Museums section.

The Santa Fe meetings were a great gathering for museum-minded folklorists. I am optimistic that the new section can help make the 2015 meetings even richer for our corner of the field. Thanks to all who have contributed to the momentum behind the new section and to the growth of folklore and museums work.

Sky Above New Mexico Museum of Art

Sky Above New Mexico Museum of Art, November 2014

A Museum-Minded Guide to the 2014 American Folklore Society Meetings

Cross-posted from AFS News.

Folklorists with an interest in museums are feeling quite excited about the upcoming American Folklore Society annual meeting in Santa Fe, New Mexico (November 5-8, 2014). The home to many world-class museums, Santa Fe is always a favorite with museum lovers, whether they are enthusiastic avocational visitors or veteran museum workers. This year, Santa Fe’s wonderful museums compete for our attention with an AFS meeting program that is unusually broad and deep in its engagement with museums as rich sites for collaboration, education, and community empowerment as well as for ethnographic, historical, and comparative research. If your plans are not yet finalized, please consider joining us in Santa Fe.

For those with museum interests, there are too many wonderful panels and presentations to enumerate all of them here. Many material culture panels—covering everything from food ways to architecture—appear throughout the program and will certainly attract the attention of museum-minded folklorists. The same can be said for public folklore programming and other themes of perennial concern. Here I highlight a selection of promising events of likely interest to those eager to learn more about the intersection of folklore studies and museum practices. This account though is just a selection drawn from the larger program and I know that much wonderful work of museum-interest is not flagged here. The Santa Fe program will provide a near infinite number of options for all of us.

Before the meetings even officially open, an abundance of museum-relevant offerings on Wednesday will get us in the mood for a jam-packed program. While the rich set of tour choices have understandably attracted many in the museums crowd, some museum folklorists have understandably been drawn to the “Experiments in Exhibition Workshop” that has been organized by Carrie Hertz and Suzanne Seriff at the Museum of International Folk Art. This innovative hands-on gathering has been sponsored by the Museum of International Folk Art, the AFS Folklore and Museum Policy and Practice Working Group, the Folklore and Education Section, and Local Learning: The National Network for Folk Arts in Education.

The Experiments in Exhibition Workshop is only one of a number of special events connected to our hosts at the Museum of International Folk Art. Kicking off the meeting’s panel sessions on Thursday morning, is a double session on “Pottery of the US South” that will offer a diversity of viewpoints on a topic that is the focus of the museum’s special exhibition of the same name. Those attending the exhibition’s opening later on Thursday may wish to attend one or both of these companion panels [01-01, 02-01].

Also in the first time slot on Thursday is Dress, Culture, and Identity: Museum Collections and Outreach, which has been sponsored by the Folklore and Education Section [01-04]. For those with museum interests, difficult choices or shuttling between rooms will be a welcome challenge throughout the meetings.

Running alongside the second pottery panel in the second slot on Thursday is the first of a series of museum-focused panels organized by the Folklore and Museum Policy and Practice Working Group. Leading off the working group’s series is a forum in which group members will update the membership on its work and solicit questions, concerns, and contributions from the field in anticipation of a final working group white paper and a range of spin off publications—all of which will aim to strengthen understanding of, and opportunities in, museum-based folklore studies [02-04]. The series of panels organized by the working group all aim to facilitate the sharing of innovative case studies and hard won experience throughout, and beyond, the field. Please join the conversation.

After lunch on Thursday, a second working group event will be held—a diamond session on “Current Digital Projects in Ethnographic Museum Contexts” [03-04]. This panel runs concurrently with “Folk Art, Folk Craft I”, which also includes presentations of special relevance to those with museum interests [03-17].

A highpoint of the conference will happen on Thursday evening, from 5:00 to 7:30 p.m. This is when the “Open House on Museum Hill” will be held. All of the Museum of International Folk Art and Museum of Indian Arts and Culture galleries and gift shops will be open and attendees will have the unique opportunity of seeing a performance by the Cibecue Creek Apache Crown Dancers. Check your program for details on other musical and exhibition offerings, as well as shuttle information. There are many great choices lined up and we will also be able to indulge in diverse fare with food trucks providing local and international foods for purchase.

Among the many museum scholars attending AFS for the first time is Aaron Glass of the Bard Graduate Center. On Thursday evening, following the events on Museum Hill, Glass will be screening “In the Land of the Head Hunters: A Newly Restored Version of Edward S. Curtis’s 1914 Silent Film Made with the Kwakwaka’wakw (Kwakiutl) of British Columbia.” This special event should have wide appeal to all who have heard of Curtis’ famous work or who have interests in archives, Native American culture, community collaboration, or visual methods and productions.

Museum-focused panels begin again on Friday with “Movement Creates Museum: Activist Beginnings of Historic Sites of Conscience” [04-01], which runs concurrently with “Archives, Museums, Collections I” [04-08]. These two panels are followed by another museums working group event: “At the Crossroads of Museums and the Marketplace” [05-03].

After lunch on Friday, hard choices continue with “Archives, Museums, and Collections II” [06-03] running concurrently with another panel with much museum content—the diamond session “People and Things: Material Culture Research at the Crossroads” [06-05].

A further museums working group event kicks off Saturday morning: “At the Crossroads of Museums and Communities” [07-01]. This event is followed by “At the Crossroads of Folklore and Museum Education” [08-05], which has been sponsored by the Folklore and Education Section.

In the conference’s final time slot for presentations, museum-relevant papers appear in “The Crossroads Are Owned: Folklore Institutions and the Negotiation of Public and Personal Tradition” [09-07], which runs concurrently with the final event of the museums working group series. It is: “Museums and Intangible Heritage: Connecting the Tangible with the Intangible” [09-16] as well as a panel discussion grounded in the work of the Museum of International Folk Art’s Gallery of Conscience initiative: “Community Crossroads: Integrating Folk Art, Media, and Youth to Impact HIV/AIDS Advocacy” [09-03].

Among the special features of the Santa Fe meetings will be the presence of many first-time attendees who are museum colleagues from China and the United States. Their attendance follows from the work of the joint China Folklore Society-American Folklore Society project focused on folklore and intangible cultural heritage (ICH). The current, second phase of this Luce Foundation-funded effort is focused on museums and ICH policies in both countries. For those interested in learning more about the current “Intangible Cultural Heritage and Ethnographic Museum Practice” project as well as the broader “China-US Folklore and Intangible Cultural Heritage Project” can find details on the AFS website.

As suggested above, this year’s museums-rich program has also attracted first-time attendees and guests from neighboring fields sharing our museum interests, including cultural anthropology and Native American studies. I would like to encourage all AFS regulars to welcome and connect with these many new AFS meeting participants. As always, AFS will also attract many students. This year will provide them with an unusually rich opportunity to learn about museum-based folklore practice and to engage with colleagues, projects, institutions, and ideas in the wider museum field.

Thanks to all who have worked hard to assemble such a rich set of events and scholarly presentations for the Santa Fe meetings.

Another World is Possible: Open Folklore as Library-Scholarly Society Partnership

Preface

In the wake of the SOPA/PIPA protests, debate over the Research Works Act, the growing boycott of Elsevier by scholars in many fields, and more local discussions of the ways that various scholarly societies in my own fields of interest (anthropology, folklore studies) responded to the recent call by the [U.S.] White House Office of Science and Technology Policy for comment on public access to federally funded research, there is a great deal of additional attention being given to the changing nature of the scholarly communications (publishing) system and our hopes for its future.

One key issue centers on scholarly society publishing programs and how they can best be advanced in the present and into the future. At the 2011 American Anthropological Association meetings I spoke in two different contexts about these issues. I have shared here previously my remarks to the “Future of AAA Publishing” event (Jackson 2011b; for context, see Nichols and Schmid 2011 and Brown 2011). That presentation was on “Green Open Access Practices.”

I also spoke in the Digital Anthropologies: Projects and Projections panel organized by Mike and Kim Fortun and sponsored by the Society for Cultural Anthropology. In that event (which has been well documented by Daniel Lende (2011), my goal was to describe the Open Folklore project as both a broader community effort and as a specific digital platform, so as to illustrate a more general point about the fruitful possibilities that can come from direct partnerships between libraries and the library community and scholarly societies.

Libraries and scholarly societies now have a customer-to-business relationship and it is one that is growing ever more strained as commercial publishers become central partners in many scholarly society publishing programs. I evoked the alter-globalization motto Another World is Possible in my title because I wanted to suggest that the course that we are on is not the only one available to us. I believe, on the basis of a lot of time spent over the past five years with university librarians around the Midwestern U.S., that the research library community would much rather work with scholarly societies collaboratively in the shared real and digital spaces in which scholars and librarians (and students) already labor together rather than engage antagonistically in a neoliberal marketplace that has been shaped by the business practices pioneered by firms such as Elsevier, Springer and (yes) Wiley-Blackwell. Open Folklore is just one of many university-scholarly society partnerships that are exploring how to make this alternative framework real.

I should have just shared my presentation at the time of the AAA meetings, but I had hope that I could quickly work on it some more before getting it into wider circulation. Time has not been available for that work, but the current interest in these issues suggests that I might now have an interested audience and a second chance to share it below in the form that I presented it in Montreal.

My remarks below should not be taken as an official statement of the Open Folklore project team, the Indiana University Libraries, or the American Folklore Society. They reflect my own experience with these issues, although they of course also draw upon the rich experiences that I have had partnering with talented, committed colleagues working toward the goal of achieving Open Folklore’s aspirations. The paper below has been edited lightly just to recontextualize the language for a reader not at the original panel (meaning simple removal of language like, “so and so will probably speak later this morning about…”). I wish to take this opportunity to especially thank Mike and Kim Fortun for their remarkable service to the field as editors of Cultural Anthropology and as organizers of the Digital Anthropology event.

 

Another World is Possible: Open Folklore as Library-Scholarly Society Partnership

Jason Baird Jackson

Indiana University

Building upon shared values, facing common problems, and recognizing new opportunities, partnerships linking scholars, scholarly societies, and research libraries are a particularly hopeful development in the changing scholarly communication system. In my remarks, and as an example of current possibilities, I will quickly describe the Open Folklore project and situate it in the context of the serials crisis, the corporate enclosure of society journal programs, the erosion of the university press system, the development of open source software for scholarly communication, and the rise of the open access movement as a progressive response to these changes. For those wanting basic information on using Open Folklore associated resources in your research and teaching, I urge you to visit the Open Folklore Portal site online and to consult the instructional screencasts that my collaborators and I have shared there, and on YouTube.

By way of introduction, I can note that OF is a joint project of the American Folklore Society and the Indiana University Bloomington (IUB) Libraries. The two lead partners share as desire to make more reliable folklore scholarship—in many genres—discoverable and freely available online.  The Open Folklore team is doing this work but so are many colleagues in many places. Consulting the Open Folklore website, which I will come to in a moment, provides an eye-opening and encouraging sense of the OA work that a wide and deep network of folklorists have already been pursuing. Launched in 2010, the project has grown rapidly and made significant progress in its efforts to foster and encourage the development of an interconnected and interoperable, but also distributed and low-cost, system of open access projects and resources.

The Open Folklore project is more than its associated portal site. The project is pursuing educational projects aimed at educating scholars about open access issues. Importantly, it is also working with rights holders and publishing partners to encourage the pursuit of sustainable open access projects that comply with the basic technical standards already extant in the broader scholarly communications community. Read more

The American Folklore Society Expresses Support for Public Access to Federally Funded Peer-Reviewed Research #RWA @whitehouseostp

Bad news abounds, but from the good news file comes today’s release of a letter sent by the President of the American Folklore Society, Diane Goldstein, on behalf of the society. (Diane is also my colleague here at Indiana University). The letter was a response to the recent Request for Information issued by the Office of Science and Technology Policy (part of the executive branch of the U.S. government charged with advising the president). The RFI focused on “Public Access to Peer-­Reviewed Scholarly Publications Resulting From Federally Funded Research.”

In the American Folklore Society’s response to the RFI, the society did two things of note. The AFS pointed to, and endorsed the careful and valuable submission that had already been made by the Association for Computers and the Humanities. In addition to supporting public access policies, the ACH statement (and by extension the AFS view) stresses the need for research policy makers working on this (and neighboring issues) to keep humanities research in mind as part of the larger (and relevant) research landscape.

The other theme brought out in the AFS statement is that the society has committed itself to sustainably pursuing public access goals as exemplified by its adoption of an author agreement for the Journal of American Folklore that is consistent with green open access practices (including repository deposit of the publisher’s final version) as well as its work (with the IU Libraries) on the Open Folklore project.

On a day in which SOPA and PIPA were prominent points of discussion, in a moment in which there are powerful interests also pushing the terrible Research Works Act, and on the day that the Supreme Court handed down a decision that signs off on a law that allows works to be taken out of the public domain and moved back into copyrighted status, I am proud to be a member of the AFS Executive Board working with colleagues who share a commitment finding pathways forward toward the full realization of open access scholarly communication in the public interest. Thank you to the Association for Computers and the Humanities for its leadership and for drafting an excellent position statement. Thank you to the White House for soliciting input on this vital public issue.

When the Association for Computers and the Humanities website comes out from under today’s SOPA blackout status, readers should be able to consult the ACH response to the RFI there. If you are in a hurry, the AFS website presents it alongside the AFS letter as a downloadable PDF.  See here: http://www.afsnet.org/news/81409/AFS-Advocates-for-the-Humanities-in-Federal-Research-Policy.htm

Open Access Interview Part Two @savageminds

Thanks again to Ryan Anderson for working with me on an interview exploring the basic issues relating to open access in anthropology and folklore. The second part of three has now been published on Savage Minds. As always I appreciate Savage Minds for hosting such considerations of these issues.

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