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Posts from the ‘cultural anthropology’ Category

Article: “A Survey of Contemporary Bai Craft Practices in the Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture, Yunnan, China” in Museum Anthropology Review 16(1-2)

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.

Find the article online at Museum Anthropology Review: https://scholarworks.iu.edu/journals/index.php/mar/article/view/34101

In this image is the first page of a journal article as typeset. The article pictured is "A Survey of Contemporary Bai Craft Practices in the Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture, Yunnan, China." Visible are the names of the authors, the abstract, the key words and the first paragraph of text.
Presented as an image is the first page of the journal article “A Survey of Contemporary Bai Craft Practices in the Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture, Yunnan, China.”

Article: “Basketry among Two Peoples of Northern Guangxi, China” in Asian Ethnology 81(1-2)

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

Find our article here: https://asianethnology.org/articles/2386

Find Jon Kay’s companion article here: https://asianethnology.org/articles/2387

His project is distinct from ours, but find William Nitzky’s article (also) on the Baiku Yao people today here: https://asianethnology.org/articles/2384

This is a image of page one of the published journal article "Basketry among Two Peoples of Northern Guangxi, China. It shows the author's names, the article title, an abstract and the keywords along with the journal's logo, which are a group of line drawn masks from Asian traditions.
A image of page one of the typeset version of the scholarly article “Basketry among Tow Peoples of Northern Guangxi, China” published in Asian Ethnology.

Article: “Towards Wider Framings: World-Systems Analysis and Folklore Studies” in Journal of Ethnology and Folkloristics 16(1)

Page one of the article “Towards Wider Framings” as typeset for the Journal of Ethnology and Folkloristics.

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.

Find the article in two places online. In Sciendo here: https://sciendo.com/article/10.2478/jef-2022-0002 and in the JEF OJS instance here: https://www.jef.ee/index.php/journal.

Museum Anthropology Review Volume 16: Studies in Museum Ethnography in Honor of Daniel C. Swan

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

Find the new collection in honor of Dan in Museum Anthropology Review online here: https://scholarworks.iu.edu/journals/index.php/mar/issue/view/2153 Thanks to all of the authors, production staff, publishers, peer-reviewers, and helpers who made this collection possible.

Daniel C. Swan pictured wearing glasses and holding a water bottle while standing in front of a large building and a plaza filled with many tourists. He wears a plaid button-down shirt in blue and white and he looks towards the camera while the other people in the scene face away from the camera as they move into the plaza and the building beyond. The sky is vivid blue with streaks of high white clouds. The tile roofs of the buildings behind the subject are orange.
The above image appears in the introduction to the special collection “Studies in Museum Ethnography in Honor of Daniel C. Swan” with the following camption. “In the days following the Seventh Forum on China-US Folklore and Intangible Cultural Heritage and on the eve of the global COVID pandemic, Daniel C. Swan was one of 19.3 million reported visitors to the Forbidden City (a.k.a Palace Museum) in 2019. May 21, 2019. Photograph by Michael Paul Jordan.”

Questions and Answers on Publishing Journal Articles: A Series Organized by Ilana Gershon

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.

August 3, 2021
Choosing a Journal Home
https://www.anthropology-news.org/articles/choosing-a-journal-home/

August 6, 2021
Book Chapters and Journal Articles
https://www.anthropology-news.org/articles/book-chapters-and-journal-articles/

August 13, 2021
Advice on Coauthoring
https://www.anthropology-news.org/articles/advice-on-coauthoring/

August 20, 2021
Submitting Articles for Feedback
https://www.anthropology-news.org/articles/submitting-articles-for-feedback/

August 27, 2021
Handling Rejection
https://www.anthropology-news.org/articles/handling-rejection/

September 3, 2021
Crafting and Publishing Theory Articles
https://www.anthropology-news.org/articles/crafting-and-publishing-theory-articles/

September 7, 2021
Responding to Revise and Resubmit
https://www.anthropology-news.org/articles/responding-to-revise-and-resubmit/

September 10, 2021
When Not to Resubmit
https://www.anthropology-news.org/articles/when-not-to-resubmit/

Two Newer Items Added to the List on September 28, 2021.

September 17, 2021

Metrics and Publishing an Article

https://www.anthropology-news.org/articles/metrics-and-publishing-an-article/

September 24, 2021

Publishing in Another Language

https://www.anthropology-news.org/articles/publishing-in-another-language/

Two Further Items Added to this List on October 13, 2021

September 28, 2021
Pros and Cons of Publishing outside of Anthropology
https://www.anthropology-news.org/articles/pros-and-cons-of-publishing-outside-anthropology/

October 1, 2021
How to Approach Publishing outside of Anthropology
https://www.anthropology-news.org/articles/how-to-approach-publishing-outside-of-anthropology/

Bamboo Basket Hampers Used by Tobacco Farmers in Nanhua County, Yunnan, China

While doing background work on FEI Xiaotong and ZHANG Zhiyi’s studies of the basketry industry(*) in Yunnan, China, my colleague W. discovered this webpage with a pair of images and a little bit of information on the production, sale, and use of large, oval-bottomed, oval-mouthed, open work bamboo tobacco hampers used by tobacco farmers to gather and transport mature tobacco leaves.

I will take down the screenshot below if called upon by the publisher to do so. Hopefully it is ok to share the page in its Google Translate version. The original Chinese text is available on the actual website, which is here: http://www.djcx.com/file_read.aspx?id=31810. The place pictured is Wudingshan town in Nanhua County, which is part of Chuxiong Yi Autonomous Prefecture, in Yunnan, China. During our team‘s travels in Yunnan, Guizhou, and Guangxi, we have not visited any tobacco producing regions and we have not ourselves documented this basket type, either in museum collections or in town or village settings.

*Fei, Hsiao-tung, and Tse-i Chang. Earthbound China: A Study of Rural Economy in Yunnan. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1945.

Cracking the Vault: A Celebration of Daniel Swan

Below find the first of a series of guest posts offered in celebration on the occasion of our colleague and friend Daniel C. Swan’s retirement from the University of Oklahoma, where he has served with distinction as a Professor of Anthropology, Curator of Ethnology, and Interim Director of the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History. First to reflect on an aspect of Dan’s work and his personal impact is Jessica W. Blanchard. Jessica is a Research Scientist at the University of Oklahoma’s Center for Applied Social Research. This series of guest posts has been organized in partnership with Michael Paul Jordan. –Jason Baird Jackson

Cracking the Vault: A Celebration of Daniel Swan

By Jessica W. Blanchard

Reflecting on the years I have known Dr. Daniel Swan brings to mind so many wonderful stories. Dan joined as a member of my doctoral committee just as I was rounding third base of the dissertation, and so it was really during the years following the completion of my degree that I came to enjoy Dan as a friend, a colleague, and of course, a ceaseless mentor. He has imparted years of stories and lessons from the field–and from life–and yet, I am unable to share most of these with you here. For you see, any really good story by, or about Dan Swan, inevitably begins and ends with the shared reassurance, “This stays in the vault.” I remember the first time I heard about said “vault” and wondered what in the world kinds of secrets of the academy I was about to learn. I listened with eager anticipation, feeling sure that I was about to be privy to something none of my peers yet knew. As it turns out, for those peers who never had a mentor like Dan Swan, I was indeed privy to a piece of the academy that made it bearable, possible, and simply better.

I entered graduate school, as many do, with a fair dose of naïve optimism and self-centered drive, and was fortunate early to have the mentorship of Dr. Jason Jackson to nurture and guide my focus away from priorities of self toward priorities of communities. His departure to a new institution left a giant hole in my committee and left me wondering how to navigate out of this tunnel known as the dissertation. Enter: Dan Swan. Upon Jason’s recommendation, I asked Dan to join my committee. Right away, Dan asked to read my work. Right away, Dan set up a lunch appointment and gave me feedback. I am not sure if he knows how much it meant to have him jump on board right away. He invested time in understanding the communities with whom I worked so that his feedback was informed and meaningful. He joined me on trips to the field, made all the better by his willingness to indulge in local all-you-can-eat catfish diners. He listened to my stories about the tiniest of Oklahoma towns, and was happy to venture there to meet the community members with whom I had grown close over the years. I watched as he did the same for other students, uplifting them any chance he got and mostly in ways that they were unaware. This, in no uncertain terms, is precisely the kind of support that makes academia bearable, possible, and simply better.

Dan’s advice to me during my time as a graduate student was decisive and clear: just do it. Get finished. Be confident in the hard work you have done. We eventually became departmental colleagues for a time, and Dan’s advice to me was again decisive and clear: worry less about those who do not deserve worry (summarizing here) and work on your face (verbatim). Apparently, I needed to learn how to express less with my face in professional situations. I still hear Dan’s voice saying “work on your face” at just the right times. I see now that Dan’s plain-spoken candor is simply part of what it means to “keep it in the vault.” The vault is simply a blueprint for how to build a circle of supportive colleagues and friends: be selective yet forgiving, invest in one another, support one another, learn from one another, defend each other when needed, hold each other accountable, and always celebrate the wins.

I referred earlier to the dissertation process as a tunnel. The thing about a tunnel is that there is always light on both sides of it. Navigating the tunnel is easier to do with encouragement and good guidance from those who have done it before. Dan helped me find the focus and grit–the tunnel vision, so to speak–I needed to get through it. Tunnel vision is a good thing when it means you are focused and productive, but it is also impossible to sustain and can limit what we can see around us. We eventually come out on the other side of the tunnel and we begin to understand that it was merely a place to gather new tools, perspective and purpose. Thank goodness for those who support our journey into the tunnel, those who cheer and pick us up as we navigate our way through, and most assuredly for those who celebrate as we emerge on the other side.

Today, I celebrate the career and mentorship of my friend, Dr. Daniel Swan. I celebrate his tireless devotion to students. I celebrate his achievements in building an approach to ethnography and curation grounded in community and relationships. I celebrate what is yet to come for him and his family! Dan, if you ever find yourself reflecting on the impact you may have had on others, let me crack the vault a bit to tell you that it was tremendous. Cheers to you!

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(Former) Bank of the West vault in downtown Los Altos, California via WikiMedia Commons (CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication)

 

 

Wedding Clothes and the Osage Community: A Giving Heritage

It is a great moment for a great project. Some Shreds and Patches readers will remember when, in 2017, the Mathers Museum of World Cultures hosted the special exhibition A Giving Heritage: Wedding Clothes and the Osage Community. After debuting at the MMWC, this exhibition, developed in a partnership between the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History (Sam Noble Museum) and the Osage Nation Museum, went on to be presented at the Osage Nation Museum. Now, the exhibition is on view, in an extended version, at the Sam Noble Museum. The Sam Noble Museum has organized a rich series of programs to accompany the exhibition, including a special community reception for citizens of the Osage Nation on November 1st. Dan Swan, the Interim Director and Curator for Ethnology at the Sam Noble Museum, served as lead curator for the exhibition.

Wedding Clothes and the Osage Community

Unboxing my copy of Wedding Clothes and the Osage Community. October 21, 2019.

I return to this exhibition not only because it is now on display at its originating institution but because the book Wedding Clothes and the Osage Community: A Giving Heritage, which stands alone but which also serves as a companion to the exhibition, has just been published by Indiana University Press in the Material Vernaculars series that I edit. The series has been a joint endeavor of the museum and the press. Wedding Clothes is the fifth title to appear in the series. As noted in other posts, MV titles are produced in paper editions sold by the press but also in free-to-readers versions shared digitally via the IUScholarWorks Repository. (It will may take a month or so for the free edition to be posted.) Wedding Clothes and the Osage Community was co-authored by Swan and Jim Cooley and includes a foreword by Osage Nation Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear.

My copy of the book arrived today and this is, hands-down, one of the most beautiful books that I have ever seen. IU Press went above and beyond with this one and it is really incredible to hold and to read as a book artifact. The book is filled with great images and they have been reproduced exquisitely on excellent paper. This is the first MV title to be printed in offset. That will not usually be possible with other MV titles, but in this case, with the exhibition and high Osage interest in play, the press was able to take this extra step. I urge everyone to find and enjoy a paper copy. Ideally purchase one. I know that $32 seems like a lot, but when you are holding this book, you will see and know that it is, unlike with so many academic titles, worth it.

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Wedding Clothes and the Osage Community makes its debut at the IU Press booth at the 2019 American Folklore Society Annual Meeting in Baltimore, MD. October 17, 2019.

The book is more than a pretty object though. It is a rich historical and ethnographic account of Osage life. I really hope that you will devote time to reading this book. The investment will be rewarded. Gift giving is a key theme in Wedding Clothes and the Osage Community. I hope that you will receive the gift of this book.

(I will share news of the free edition when it is posted.)

Modalities of Culture Change: A Query

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A hybrid flower photographed by makamuki0 and circulated under a CC0 license. Hybridization as a mode of cultural change was discussed prominently in Theorizing the Hybrid, a 1999 special issue of the Journal of American Folklore edited by Deborah A. Kapchan and Pauline Turner Strong. Like mestatisize, hybridization in the context of cultural analysis draws on biological imagery.

Across the twentieth century, much of the heavy lifting in cultural anthropology, ethnology, and folklore studies was done with key concepts/words that related to identifiable modalities of cultural change. Diffusion was the core concept as these fields entered the twentieth century and a range of additional ones were identified, theorized, applied, refined, debated, etc. as the decades passed. Acculturation occupied a lot of attention, reorienting American cultural anthropology/ethnology in the process. The list grew longer and longer–innovation, socialization, enculturation, modernization, revitalization, missionization, colonization, decolonization, creolization, hybridization, globalization… No one mode of analysis or discourse predominated. Instead scholars in these fields accumulated a storage box of alternatives out of which they could draw at need. Some of these modes of thought and analysis have aged better than others. Some were criticized, some just came to be used less often. Some seem more relevant in the present than others. Most probably have their use now and will have in the future.

But what additional terms or concepts warrant our attention now? Suggestions are very welcome. Here is an example. Deskill. Deskilling. (Deskillification?) I now hear this term many times a week in a range of contexts. It seems like a candidate for possible inscription on the scholarly list of cultural/social change concepts. What about the more poetic transfers into cultural analysis. Borrowed from medicine, metastasize is being used more and more in discussions of cancer-like social processes. In more workaday work, folklorization is now well established as is traditionalization. On this model, it is not surprising that heritagization is also now in widespread use. Are there any comparable core concepts that we have not yet transformed in processual variants? Some terms come towards us from, for instance, the business world. Do folklorists, ethnologists, and cultural anthropologists need to put our own spin on disrupt?

I hope to revisit the lexicon of cultural change concepts in future work. Your suggestions are welcome. (I am certain there is already work by scholars in these fields on many newer modes of culture change, including the examples (deskill, disrupt) I use to illustrate the query. I am interested in that work also.)

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Neuroblastoma Rosettes by Dr. Maria Tsokos, National Cancer Institute [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. Although this cancer image is probably visually arresting when taken out of context, use of metastasize in cultural analysis is usually intended to provoke horror and to evoke ill social health. A great example encountered yesterday is in the first paragraph of Emma Louise Backe’s essay “Hau’s Hauntings

The University of Tartu, Appreciated

#fulbrightspecialist #fulbright #exchangeourworld

I recently spent an extended time in Tartu, Estonia. I had the wonderful opportunity to be a Fulbright Specialist visiting the Departments of: (1) Estonian and Comparative Folklore, (2) Ethnology, and (3) Estonian Native Craft at the University of Tartu. My visit also provided rich opportunities to learn about the work of the Estonian National Museum, with which these departments collaborate closely. Visiting Estonia was a transformational experience for me and I am very grateful for my generous hosts in Estonia and for the continued work of the [U.S. Department of State’s] Fulbright Program. Here I reflect briefly on the work of my fields at the University of Tartu. In a later post, I will evoke the courses that I taught and the students I met while in Tartu. In a final post, I will touch on the Estonian National Museum and the rich International Committee for Museums and Collections of Ethnography (ICME) conference that it recently hosted.

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On the left, with the mural on its end, is Ülikooli 16 in Tartu on the University of Tartu campus. It is today home to the Institute for Cultural Research, which includes the Departments of Ethnology and of Estonian and Comparative Folklore.

The twinned disciplines in which I work–folkloristics (folklore studies) and ethnology–have a deep and important history in Estonia. So too do the practice of, and the study of, the nation’s rich craft traditions. For my interests, it would really be difficult to think of a richer and more rewarding place to make an in-depth, scholarly visit. The University of Tartu is almost two centuries older than Indiana University where I work. It was founded in 1632 under the auspices of King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden. Through Swedish, Russian, and Soviet rule as well as in independent Estonia, the University of Tartu has been a major world academic center. This is reflected in the fame and impact of its academic programs and in the scholars and students who continue to gather there from around the world. (For those interested in Indiana University connections, the university is strong not only in folklore studies and ethnology, but in the neighboring field of semiotics, another field of special interest to Indiana University scholars. Semiotician and IU Distinguished Professor Thomas Sebeok’s library can be found there (See: Thomas A. Sebeok Memorial Library. As noted here, Sebeok was a Fellow of the IU Folklore Institute and a Professor of Anthropology among his many IU roles.)

The Departments that hosted me have longstanding and strong undergraduate and graduate programs, but a new joint MA program was one catalyst for my visit. Having just welcomed its second cohort of students, the Folkloristics and Applied Heritage Studies program is an English-language masters degree program attracting strong students from around the world (including the United States). It is taught and managed in partnership between these units.

I taught two short-term courses while visiting campus (see later post) and met with colleagues and students both in Tartu and in the city of Viljandi, where the Department of Estonian Native Craft is based. It and other arts programs are located in the Viljandi Culture Academy. Viljandi–about an hour east of Tartu–is a strong hub for the arts in general and for Estonian vernacular and folk arts in particular. For example, near Viljandi is a great satellite museum of the Estonian National Museum that is focused on handicraft and rural life (Heimtali Museum of Domestic Life) and Viljandi is home to the major Viljandi Folk Music Festival.

Both in Viljandi and in Tartu, UT faculty were very generous and taught me much about their work and its contexts. As someone who teaches the history (and present status) of folklore studies, anthropology, and ethnology, it was extremely valuable to have a close encounter with the past and present of these fields in a national context that is inflected in both Northern European ways and in the Russian, Soviet, Post-Soviet ways. As throughout the region, issues of nationalism and national identity are a central theme, but colonialisms and their afterlives are also woven throughout the disciplinary histories. Estonia offers much to think about.

This is not just a historical matter, as changes and innovations in Estonia society also offer many lessons. For instance, life at the University of Tartu is now heavily impacted by programs and initiatives of the European Union and technological mediation is a constantly present dynamic in the university’s educational work. While I am quite accustomed now with online and distance education, I was struck by the extensive role that these techniques play not only word-heavy curriculums such as in ethnology and folklore studies, but in the university’s native craft curriculum. Most students in this later department are older students (older, that is, than recent high school graduates) and they are learning advanced textile, metalwork, and building techniques as well as heritage studies methods and theories through a combination of intense-but-brief in-person work on campus and online education activities.

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My course on “Getting the Most Out of Peer-Review” was generously supported by the European Union, thus this sign was posted during class sessions.

From colleagues in these departments, I also gained a deeper understanding of their impressive publishing work. Highlights include the Journal of Ethnology and Folkloristics (which I have long admired) and Studia Vernacula and a great diversity of monographs and edited volumes. Publication work in my fields is very advanced in the UT departments. The well-researched and beautiful books being produced related to Estonian craft techniques and histories are a marvel–little work of this quality is found in the United States.

I could continue at near endless length, but this is enough for now. I close for the moment with warm appreciation for all of the staff, faculty, and students who worked hard to make my visit possible and who shared so much of their work and passion with me. Thanks also go to the Fulbright Specialist Program and to the European Union, the University of Tartu, and other funding agencies that supported my activities.

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In downtown Tartu.

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