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Posts from the ‘Conferences’ Category

The Washington Declaration on Intellectual Property and the Public Interest

It has been several years now since I last taught my seminar on intellectual and cultural property issues in folklore and ethnology and I have not succeeded in keeping up with recent developments. In this context, I am especially glad that so many of my favorite colleagues have taken up work in this area. Thanks go to one of them, Alex Dent (Associate Professor of Anthropology at George Washington University and Associate Editor of Anthropological Quarterly [a awesome not-for-profit journal in its 84th year]) for calling to my attention the The Washington Declaration on Intellectual Property and the Public Interest. I have signed the statement as an expression of my basic values in this realm and I support the project. Even if you feel differently, reading the declaration is a valuable learning experience. I urge folks with concerns about where we are and where we are going to take a look. Here is an excerpt.

The next decade is likely to be determinative. A quarter century of adverse changes in the international intellectual property system are on the cusp of becoming effectively irreversible, at least in the lives of present generations. Intellectual property can promote innovation, creativity and cultural development. But an old proverb teaches that “it is possible to have too much of a good thing,” and that adage certainly applies here. The burden falls on public interest advocates to make a coordinated, evidence-based case for a critical reexamination of intellectual property maximalism at every level of government, and in every appropriate institutional setting, as well as to pursue alternatives that may blunt the force of intellectual property expansionism.

Find the whole document in its organization, institutional, and policy context online at Thanks Alex!

The Program for #AAA2011

Just got access to the preliminary program for the 2011 American Anthropological Association meetings this November in Montreal.

I will be participating in a AAA organized forum called The Future of AAA Publishing: A Forum for Discussion. In this event, I will address issues associated with green open access and the use of institutional (and other kinds of) repositories. This event begins at 1:45 on Friday afternoon.

I will also be part of a panel titled Digital Anthropology: Projects and Projections that has been organized by Kim Fortun. My presentation is Another World Is Possible: Open Folklore As Library-Scholarly Society Partnership. This panel happens first thing on Sunday morning.

I have only begun scouting out the program, but I see a lot of friends are scattered across it. I look forward to figuring out what is what and to attending.

AFS Meeting Program Proposals: Final Reminder

From an email circulated by Lorraine Cashman, AFS Associated Director:

This is your final reminder: the deadline for all proposals for the AFS 2011 annual meeting program is March 31.

If you intend to submit a proposal, please do so as soon as possible. The high volume of submissions increases the likelihood of difficulties in the final days of March. Please allow extra time for our part-time administrative staff to respond to your questions during business hours.

Remember, submitting your proposal requires registration, and to receive the members’ registration rate, you will have to Sign In at

If you don’t know your password, you can reset it from the Sign In screen. If you don’t know your username, use the “Forgot your password?” link and enter your email address. If that address matches the one we have on file, you will still be able to sign in. If you have any trouble, please use the website to “Contact Us” —

When you are ready to submit your proposal, you will start the registration/submission process on the 2011 Annual Meeting page —

Finally, please note that you can use the 2011 Annual Meeting Forum ( for meeting-related discussions. In particular, you can use the “Accommodations” forum topic to coordinate housing, transportation, childcare, or other local arrangements. If you have any suggestions for new annual meeting forum topics that will be useful later this year for those attending the meeting, please let me know.

Thank you for your support of our field and Society.

Lorraine Cashman
Associate Director

CFP: Making Sense of Visual Culture

From a circulated call for papers and participation…

Call for Participation

“Making Sense of Visual Culture”
An interdisciplinary conference sponsored by the Graduate Program in 
Visual and Cultural Studies at the University of Rochester
April 1st-3rd, 2011, Rochester, New York

Sound, taste, touch and smell. The institutionalization of the field of Visual Culture has coincided with a proliferation of methods to investigate a range of sensory experience.  More than conceiving of Visual Studies as an historical intervention into disciplinary art history, we seek to explore its ongoing development as a clearing house for investigation of what the visual does, and doesn’t do. With these concerns in mind, the Graduate Program in Visual and Cultural Studies at the University of Rochester invites scholars from across disciplines to discuss the evolving institutional and methodological contours of our field.  From April 1st-3rd, 2011, “Making Sense of Visual Culture” will address large-scale disciplinary questions as well the development of new approaches to an expanded range of sensory objects, phenomena, and practices.

In order to create a space for new voices on these topics, we have decided to eschew the standard figure of the keynote speaker and its implied authority.  Instead, we invite innovative work by graduate students and non-tenured faculty for a series of round-tables, workshops, and panels that will address the two major, interlinked concerns of the conference: sensory experience and the future of the field.

To this end, we envision this CFP functioning not just as a traditional call for papers, but also as a call for participation.  There are many ways to participate in this discussion, even if you cannot join us in April.

1. We are circulating a questionnaire. All responses will be posted to an open access website to create a broad dialogue. We are asking all scholars with an investment in the future study of visual culture to respond.  Select respondents will be invited to participate in a roundtable discussion at the conference.

2. We solicit 300-word abstracts for 20-minute paper presentations on work that exemplifies, challenges and expands the field of visual studies. Possible topics include, but are not limited, to:

– multi-sensory approaches to material culture and memory
– the “hegemony of the visual”
– the practice of visual culture as method, discipline or sensibility
– visualizing sensory experience
– cultural difference and the senses
– epistemology of the senses
– histories of perception
– lending form to affect
– synesthetia
– the interface of vision and touch
– changing practices of visualizing information
– the present and future of medium specificity (in both artistic and scholarly practices)
– the role of technologies in sensory perception

Please include a brief CV with your submissions.  Deadline: January 15, 2011.  Please email these documents to

Fall Conference #5: SIMA Board Meeting and the AAA Annual Meeting #AAA2010

Last week I went quickly to New Orleans. I had not planned to go to the American Anthropological Association meetings this year, but my friend Candace Greene called a meeting of the Advisory Board for the Smithsonian Institution Summer Institute on Museum Anthropology. Candace direct’s this important NSF-funded summer training program (more about it soon) and I have been involved in its development since its formative stage. This coming summer will be the program’s third year of providing a month-long intensive training program in the use of systematic museum collections for advanced research in cultural anthropology and neighboring fields. The program attracts graduate students from across the United States and really fills an important need.

I arrived in New Orleans in time for an all-afternoon SIMA advisory panel meeting.  The program is preparing plans for its next three year cycle and our conversations focused on assessing what has been accomplished and building out for the future.  The meeting ended in time to catch up with fellow Oklahoma-ists Dan Swan, Michael Jordan, Jessica Walker and John Lukavic.. After dinner, I was able to attend one of many solid museum anthropology and material culture studies panels on the conference program.  John was a presenter on this panel (Making Meaning with Objects: Community Processes and Museum Practices) and presented a talk titled “Circulating Property and Knowledge: Intellectual Property and Cultural Knowledge Systems of the Southern Cheyenne.” John’s paper was one of many fine contributions to this panel.

The next day, before heading home, I was able fit in several meetings and a couple more excellent panels.  Two of my meetings were with journal editors eager to trade notes on the changing world of scholarly communication, including the practical possibilities of shifting to open access strategies.  The paper panel was “Museum Ethnography in Theory and Practice” organized by Jennifer Shannon and Christina Kreps.  I was not able to hear all the papers, but all that I did hear were excellent, as was the commentary provided by Eric Gable and Ann McMullen.  I also went quickly to see the poser session organized by Dan Swan–“Applying New Theories to Old Things: Museum Research Today.” The posters (and the projects that they represent) were all great.

Getting caught up in open access talk, I had to race to catch my plane with a real sense of anxiety.  I took the most impressive cab ride of my life.  The driver had no choice but to take me into some terrible rush hour traffic on I-10 going to the airport.  He used so many tricks to get there fast that it was mind boggling.  On many occasions, he bypassed long stretches of gridlock by exiting and then creatively cutting from off-ramps to on-ramps thereby getting back onto the interstate ahead of big blocks of stopped and slowed cars.  Had I been a driver in the vicinity I would have been out of my mind with irritation at his antics, but as a passenger worried about missing a flight, I was full of admiration.  It really was movie-quality cab driving.  It took an hour to get there and I know that he saved me 30 or more minutes.  NOLA has flat rates from downtown to the airport and this instance was the first time in which I thought that a taxi rate seemed way too low for the work done.  Needless to say, I was a generous tipper.  This cab ride may be the thing I remember most about the trip.

I left way early in the meeting and missed tons of promising panels and missed seeing scores of friends and colleagues.  Perhaps I can make a longer trip of it next year.

Fall Conference #4: The Legacy of Claude Lévi-Strauss’ Work

Soon after returning from the AFS meeting, I was fortunate to be a participant in an conference at IU organized by Joëlle Bahloul and Raymond J. DeMallie. The symposium was called After 100: The Legacy of Claude Lévi-Strauss’ Work in 21st Century Arts and Humanities and it brought a large and diverse group of scholars to our campus to talk about the ramifications of Claude Lévi-Strauss’ scholarship. I enjoyed meeting some colleagues for the first time and reconnecting with some others. I also enjoyed returning to interests that I have had throughout the career. I appreciated being included and having the chance to host one of the panels. My thanks go to the organizers and all of the participants.

Fall Conference #3: American Folklore Society

A couple of days after returning from Oklahoma, I turned around and headed out again to the Annual Meeting of the American Folklore Society.  Three main tasks filled my time during these meetings.  As was the case when I went to the American Anthropological Association meetings as a society editor, my AFS meetings are now mainly composed of business meetings taking place within the time and space of the scholarly meeting.  I saw very few scholarly presentations and I ate all of my lunches out of boxes inside the conference hotel, but the meeting was really productive from a work point of view.  The domains of my activity were focused on:  (1) the AFS Executive Board (of which I am a member), (2) the Teagle Foundation funded “Big Questions and the Disciplines” project on improving undergraduate instruction in folklore studies and (3) the launch of the Open Folklore portal site.

It is a honor to represent the AFS membership as a member of the society’s board. The crux of the story from my perspective as a board member is that the society and thus the board are in the midst of a very very busy and very positive time.  The broader context of our work as scholars in North America and in the United States is troubling, but our society has never been stronger. At the meetings, we heard an abundance of good news from the field, recognized many excellent people and projects with well deserved awards, and pushed forward on a number of initiatives. The Teagle grant project is one of these and Open Folklore is another, but great progress is being made on many fronts. I am thankful for all of the people who are helping the society thrive.

As a participant in the Teagle project, I had the pleasure of participating in a lively and rich panel discussion and then a working lunch meeting in which we reviewed our work of the past year and planned for further efforts in the year ahead. I am learning from all of the project’s participants and am especially grateful to Dorothy Noyes and Tim Lloyd for leading our efforts.

I have discussed the Open Folklore project and the portal launch in previous posts. I’ll just note again here how exciting I think that this project is and how appreciative I am for the chance to participate in it.  I had planned on discussing the Southeastern Native American Collections Project as part of an experimental panel in which colleagues and I were trying out a seven minute-twenty-one slide speed format panel. As the conference approached, I proposed a change in which I would present on Open Folklore instead.  The slides are available here and I hope to work up an audio slidecast very soon.  The experimental panel was a big success and we are planning to include the format in the 2011 AFS meetings in Bloomington.

Thanks to everyone who worked to make the Nashville meetings a success.


Fall Conference #2: Euchee (Yuchi) History Symposium

At the beginning of October (8-9), I participated in the first even Euchee (Yuchi) History Symposium, an event organized by the Euchee (Yuchi) Tribe of Indians and held in conjunction with the tribe’s annual Heritage Days Festival. The event took place near Kellyville, Oklahoma at the Creek County Fairgrounds, the place where the first Euchee Heritage Days Festival took place 14 years ago. (I am starting to feel really old!)

The inaugural history symposium is an outgrowth of the tribe’s current ANA-funded history project. The format for the event featured presentations by historians and historical anthropologists with broad knowledge of native (and non-native) history in the American South that is relevant to the specific question of Euchee tribal history. Presenters included Robbie Ethridge, David Chang, Steve Warren, Steve Martin, Joshua Piker, Mary Linn, Cindy Tiger (Euchee) and Tamara Wilson (Euchee). Euchee (Yuchi) Tribe of Indians Chairman Andrew Skeeter hosted the event and I had the honor of serving as a sort of facilitator and master of ceremonies. The symposium and the festival as a whole was very expertly organized and staffed by a very large and effective group of volunteers from the Euchee community.

The symposium program was organized chronologically and spanned the period from first contact with Europeans through to the present. Each of the presenters brought valuable knowledge to the table and there was much fruitful discussion among everyone assembled.  I think that there were eye opening moments too for all involved.  Those who were visiting Euchee country for the first time were, I know, impressed with the vitality of Euchee community life and the seriousness with which Euchee people pursue their language, culture and history work.  For Euchee community members, I think that there was a deepening of understanding of how complicated, and often troubling, the historical narrative of the past 500 years of Euchee history is. (The story of native involvement in the colonial slave trade was a source of much discussion.) For everyone, there was renewed hope that the complexities of this story can be sorted out and presented in ways that will be valuable to both the community and to scholars who have so often misunderstood the place of the Euchee in the larger history of North America.

The symposium was an all-day event on Friday (10/8/10) and then a briefer recap of the Friday discussions was held on Saturday morning as the first of the day’s festival events.

The festival itself is always fun and this year it was particularly excellent. In addition to the symposium there were a number of other firsts, including much involvement from the Euchee language classes.  Some hilarious skits and plays were staged in the Euchee language throughout the event. For the first time ever, the tribe selected its first tribal princess.  All of the participants (and organizers) did a wonderful job and Miss Julia Wakeford was crowned the first Miss Euchee Princess. The festival also featured the first all-Euchee Color Guard and, for the first time, an old fashioned Corn Stalk Shoot with old style bows and arrows.

As a scholarly conference that included amazing food, a stomp dance, a horseshoe tournament, hilarious Euchee comedy, lots of raffles and prizes, a bingo night, oodles of arts and crafts, cultural demonstrations, and socializing with lots of nice people from all over Eastern Oklahoma, the first Euchee (Yuchi) History Symposium set a standard for work and play that no regular academic conference can ever meet.  The Euchee people have every reason to be proud of this very successful event. I am very thankful that I was able to participate.

Fall Conference #1: Indiana University Statewide IT Conference

This fall has been really busy. For the last couple of months, conferences of all sorts have occupied me more than I had anticipated. My original plan was to only attend the American Folklore Society meetings where I would pursue my work as a board member and promote the Open Folklore project. Other opportunities came along…  One of these was the Indiana University Statewide Information Conference. Here is the first in a series of brief reports on these conferences.

At the very end of September, I participated in the Indiana University Statewide Information Technology Conference. I was encouraged to propose a presentation by Robert McDonald, Associate Dean for Library Technologies and Digital Libraries at the Indiana University Bloomington Libraries. I shared a one hour slot with William Cowan, a developer on the EVIA (Ethnographic Video for Instruction and Analysis) Digital Archive who was discussing the associated Ethnomusicology Multimedia Project. As noted briefly earlier, I gave my first overview of the Open Folklore project. The presentation was well received and it was great to have a chance to try out explaining the project to interested audiences before attending the American Folklore Society Meetings where we would be launching the OF Portal.

My presentation drew upon consultation with Open Folklore project team members Garett Montanez, Moria Smith, Jennifer Laherty, Tim Lloyd, and Julie Bobay.

This was my second time participating in, and presenting at, this IT conference. I enjoy it because it is so different from the normal events that I attend. One thing about it is that it is rather inspiring. IU has an excellent IT organization and this event has a pep rally quality that is very effective. The event extends beyond the core IT departments and encompasses a diversity of IU community members involved in information technology projects, issues, and infrastructure. As a faculty member, I am in the minority as a presenter but have been made very welcome. I certainly learn a great deal as a participant. Because my engagements are at the library-IT interface, I participate alongside my library collaborators and friends, which is always fun.

Open Folklore Slides from AFS 2010

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