Skip to content

Lessons of Accountability

Below find the second 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. Reflecting here on an aspect of Dan’s work and his personal impact is heather ahtone, senior curator at the First Americans Museum. She served previously as James T. Bialac Curator of Native American and Non-Western Art at the University of Oklahoma’s Fred Jones, Jr. Museum of Art. This series of guest posts has been organized in partnership with Michael Paul Jordan. –Jason Baird Jackson

Lessons of Accountability

by heather ahtone

As a young professional in 2012, Dan Swan was one of the first in the museum community who helped me feel like a professional. That may seem redundant, how does one not feel like a professional if one is? But I think that for many Native folks coming into the museum field, like myself, it is common to feel like an imposter. I came to my professional field as a matter of accidents and curiosity, with few mentors in the actual field. I didn’t have a cadre of Native folks to help me navigate the museum field’s history of colonialism, authoritarianism, and dismissal of Indigenous agency. Stepping into an institution as the only Person of Color at a level with some capacity for bringing an Indigenous presence into the conversation, I felt a significant amount of pressure. Those pressures were purely internally driven. I could have gone with the flow. But it was clear to me that I had a level of accountability. It would never be imposed by the institution but would always be present for me as a lone representative as I assumed responsibilities curating the collections representing all the brown folks (my position was as curator of Native American and Non-Western arts).

The first part of the lesson of accountability Dan taught was mutual respect. It was a hard lesson emotionally. I wanted to earn a doctoral degree and needed a committee member. I asked Dan to join my committee. He declined. In the most Dan-like way, he declined by expressing that as a respected colleague it was inappropriate for him to be in a position of power over my scholarly work. I can only say that I was broken-hearted by his decision. But I was humbled by his acknowledgment of me as an equal (of sorts – he will always be someone I look up to!). His expression of respect gave me a courage that became a driving force in my work. It made me see that I also had responsibilities as an equal to him–not as a measure of myself, but as a measure of all the goodness he has done for our Native community. That courage was needed to serve the Native folks who were not standing in those meeting rooms, sitting at the table, and having a voice (quivering as I often felt). His respect held me up on many days.

The second part of the lesson of accountability was service. As I assumed the responsibilities and provided leadership in my curatorial position, I pushed myself and the institution to meet the accountability I felt on behalf of the Indigenous community. This appeared to me as service, until the museum field response became an unquenchable demand for more. More work. More writing. More of my voice to fill the silence of Indigenous invisibility. And this was how I learned about my real service to the field. I witnessed Dan creating opportunities for his students, for his peers, and for me. I realized that my true service to the field would not come from the “doing.” Service would come from putting others forward and nurturing a broad voice from the community, not just my voice. He taught by example that the work could never be for myself, but always to serve the community. He wasn’t the only one teaching me this point, I have to acknowledge that I needed two teachers for this particular lesson, Dr. Gregory Cajete was the other. Between the two, I found that truly serving the community was found in nurturing a broader body of servants to our Native community.

The final part of the lesson of accountability was in speaking the truth. Dan has been a champion for my projects for a long while. During one project, fairly early in my curating path, Dan used my work as a teaching tool for his students. He was openly proud of the project, and I appreciated that. It was during a class visit with his students after visiting the exhibition that we discussed openly the successes and failures of the project. The successes were fairly public and I had more practice speaking to these. In conversation in front of his students, Dan asked questions about the failures. This was a challenge to me in the moment. I had less practice speaking to my failures openly. I’m not sure if I spoke the whole truth in that moment, I am sure I was incredibly uncomfortable. But the discomfort with the questions exposed to me that this was where the real learning rests. That when we can honestly assess our failures, we lay a path to confront them and genuinely improve our practice. I have since incorporated my failures with my successes as a part of my public speaking practice. The response to the failures has never ceased to be one of people embracing that truth as “refreshing” and as a moment of strength. My grandmother’s lessons on honesty laid a foundation that Dan’s lesson on truth have fortified.

With all that said, I have learned so many more lessons from Dan. I will always be grateful for his kindness, generosity, and support. He has never let me take the easy path. Our conversations are a source of personal joy and intellectual growth. I believe I will be learning from him for years to come. And if I have listened to what he taught well, I will be able to pass those lessons along to another generation for even more.

God bless you, friend, enjoy all the beauty that the world has to offer.

americanindianculturalcentermuseum

An in-process photograph of the First Americans Museum in Oklahoma City. FAM is slated to open in Spring 2021. FAM press photograph via https://www.indianz.com/News/2018/03/19/american-indian-cultural-center-and-muse.asp

 

 

 

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!

Bank_of_the_West_Los_Altos_branch_vault

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

 

 

Creation and Community: Making Mississippi Choctaw Arts

Creation and Community: Making Mississippi Choctaw Arts

A Material Culture Studies Lecture by Emily Buhrow Rogers

Thursday May 21, 2020
2–3 p.m. (EST)

Email Jason Jackson at mchsl@indiana.edu to request Zoom details.

This talk examines how Mississippi Choctaw basket weavers, sewers, and beaders innovatively navigate myriad complex landscapes through their acts of creation. It reconceptualizes scholarly beliefs about the nature of material gathering, focuses on the lived realities of individual’s creative efforts, and brings into focus makers’ acts as future oriented and constitutive of the important rhythms of Choctaw social life.

Emily Buhrow Rogers holds a doctorate in anthropology and a master’s degree in folklore from Indiana University. She is currently an editor of the journal Mississippi Folklife and a researcher in the Material Culture and Heritage Studies Laboratory at Indiana University. She carried out her ethnographic research on the expressive practices of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians (MBCI) from 2017-2018 with the generous approval and support of the MBCI’s Chief’s Office and Tribal Council. This work was funded by grants from the Center for Craft, Creativity, and Design; the American Philosophical Society; and the Whatcom Museum.

Sponsored by the Department of Anthropology and the Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology at Indiana University.

2020-05-21 Rogers Lecture2

Reblog: AFS Rebooks Tulsa Annual Meeting for 2022 but Continues to Plan for a Smaller Fall Meeting

Here I am sharing this important announcement from the American Folklore Society. I will continue to be involved in work towards the 2020 and 2022 AFS Annual Meetings, both with Tulsa ties. Those who have been involved in the running of scholarly societies will know what a financial and governance triumph this news is. Many scholarly organizations face catastrophic loss at the intersection of conference hotel contracts and COVID-19 consequences. I am so happy for AFS and thank its leaders. –Jason

AFS Rebooks Tulsa Annual Meeting for 2022 but Continues to Plan for a Smaller Fall Meeting

Like you, we at AFS are still faced with more questions than answers about how to plan for the coming year, but one thing has become clear: the current pandemic and its economic fallout will have a serious impact on our October meeting.

Because we want the opportunity to deliver fully on the plans and promises that we have already developed for our Tulsa meeting, we have taken one definite step at this time: we have renegotiated our contract with the Tulsa Hyatt to minimize our financial obligations to the hotel for this year, while rebooking to return to Tulsa October 12-15, 2022. This gives us the opportunity to continue planning several options for our Fall 2020 meeting while also planning to return to Tulsa in full in 2022.

This contract rebooking buys us more time to explore what we CAN do to convene in 2020, so our message remains the same: we are proceeding with our plans for a 2020 meeting in some form, as we investigate our options to best serve our members and attendees, perhaps including a smaller regional meeting, some virtual offerings, or a combination of both. We will continue our current work with partner organizations in Oklahoma to produce meaningful collaborative programming this year, and we hope to deepen those relationships through our return in 2022.

The AFS 2020 Local Arrangements Committee supports these difficult decisions and are thankful to the executive office and the Hyatt’s exceptional staff for finding a compromise with a larger vision for engaging folklore in Oklahoma. LAC co-chairs, Terri Jordan and Sarah Milligan see the benefit of returning to Tulsa in 2022, “This outcome allows us to continue to build flexible and innovative partnerships with both AFS members and our regional collaborators in light of the uncertainties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. By extending our Tulsa meeting commitment to 2022 the LAC has an unprecedented opportunity for a deeper, more prolonged period of relationship building between our Oklahoma partners and the AFS community. Not only are we beyond grateful for the time and commitment from our LAC members in preparing for the 2020 meeting, we are excited to continue developing and nurturing these exchanges in 2020 and leading up to 2022.”

AFS Executive Director Jessica A. Turner says the Hyatt’s willingness to amend the meeting contract gives AFS the flexibility it needs to serve its members. “Moving our contract to 2022 removes a financial hurdle and allows us to have the successful full meeting in Tulsa we have been planning with extraordinary Oklahoma partners. It also allows us to be creative in adapting our plans to keep us connected as a field.”

Catherine McKemie, our partner with ConferenceDirect, emphasized that “Collaboration is key during a crisis and I was honored to help all parties involved reach a successful outcome. It is during tough times that true partners rise up to help each other and we were fortunate to work with Hyatt Hotels and American Folklore Society to deliver a favorable outcome.”

AFS thanks the Hyatt Regency Tulsa for its partnership in creating a plan that works flexibly with financial and travel uncertainties during the COVID-19 pandemic.  “We are proud to work with the American Folklore Society in rebooking its meeting to 2022 so that their plans for a Tulsa meeting see their full potential,” said Denise Davis, Director of Events for Hyatt Corporation.

In the meantime, the Review Committee is currently at work reading proposals, keeping calm and carrying on with the annual business of reviewing the research and concerns that are shaping our field right now and for the future. Many thanks to them for laying this foundation as we look for both customary and new ways of connecting our members and supporting their important work as circumstances evolve.

We have not changed our standards for proposal review: each submission will be considered on its own merits as a contribution to the full convening of the American Folklore Society. If you submitted a proposal, you’ll hear from us in the coming weeks about the Review Committee’s decisions. Though we can’t yet commit to what kind of platform we will provide if your proposal is accepted, you can rest assured that if it isn’t acceptable to you or you can’t present for other reasons, you may defer your presentation until 2021 or withdraw with a full refund. In the meantime, if your own plans to participate significantly change, please let us know as soon as possible, so we can respond and scale our plans accordingly. We will be reaching out for your input in the coming weeks as we work out a plan that serves most members.

On behalf of the AFS Executive Board, AFS President Norma E. Cantú said, “We thank everyone who has grappled with the changing situation and found solutions to our predicament so we can honor our bylaws and hold our annual meeting as scheduled in some form or another.  We send our deepest sympathy to any members who have been touched by the tragic events of the pandemic and send best wishes to everyone as we go forward.”

In summary:
• We are reducing our meeting with Tulsa and will plan for a smaller in-person meeting; all are welcome should your feel safe and able to travel
• We are exploring virtual meeting options and will make some decisions about scale and format in the coming weeks
• We will return to Tulsa for our 2022 Annual Meeting
• Wait a few weeks more before making or changing your travel plans for October until our program and your own ability to participate become clearer

Count on us to communicate directly with you as soon as we have more information to share; we will email all members and registered attendees, post updates to the 2020 Annual Meeting page, the AFS Review and our social media channels as our plans take shape. As always, we are here to respond to questions or concerns.

We remain hopeful that our efforts to meet in Tulsa will be realized, perhaps through an even stronger and more intentional meeting. Woody Guthrie wrote, “The note of hope is the only note that can keep us from falling to the bottom of the heap of evolution. Because, largely, about all a human being is anyway is just a hoping machine.” To that end, we reached out to a few of our members to ask them to share what they are hopeful for, creating some video in the new Zoom aesthetic.

Jessica A. Turner
AFS Executive Director

 

Sowei Mask Repairs in Focus: Material Interpretation and Object Itineraries (Lecture)

2020-05-14 Otto Lecture

Sowei Mask Repairs in Focus: Material Interpretation and Object Itineraries

A Material Culture Studies Lecture by Kristin Otto

Thursday May 14, 2020
2–3 p.m. (EST)

Email Jason Jackson at mchsl@indiana.edu to request Zoom details.

Following the emergence of repair as a topic of interest for material culture scholars, this talk examines the significance of repair for the “lives” / biographies / itineraries of ethnographic material culture in museum collections. Sowei masks (also known as Sande or Bundu masks) are among the most widely collected and easily recognizable objects from Africa in museum collections around the world. Repair proved to be a common experience for the masks as they circulated from performative contexts in West Africa into Western markets, collections, and institutions. Through in-depth case studies of five sowei masks in museum collections around the world, Otto examines how repair shapes the material and immaterial lives of the masks in new contexts and transactional spaces.

Kristin Otto is a Ph.D. candidate in Indiana University’s Department of Anthropology and a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow. Her work as a museum anthropologist and curator focuses on how processes of making and repair impact our understandings of museum collections and material culture.

Sponsored by the Department of Anthropology and the Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology.

Two Collections of Florida Seminole Dolls

Since beginning the social distancing era, I have taken on a small, personal project to photograph and share two collections of Florida Seminole dolls from my life. Building on the post I wrote soon after my father’s passing, I began by posting (Facebook, WeChat) images of his second collection of such dolls. After picturing those eleven dolls, I did the same for the eight dolls in the personal collection that my wife Amy and I share. These all date to my graduate school days, before I became a museum curator and had to stop growing such a collection. For the interest of those outside my narrower social media circles, I share these two groups below. I am now starting on the grimmer task of taking images and inventorying the larger group of Florida Seminole dolls that were in my father’s initial collection. These all suffered smoke damage and associated chemical contamination when they were caught up in a house fire. While marred by this, they still hold scholarly and humanistic interest and there are things to be learned from them. I will share more about those dolls later.

The Second Kendall Jackson Collection of Florida Seminole Dolls

The Amy and Jason Jackson Collection of Florida Seminole Dolls

“Innovation, Habitus, and Heritage”: A New Paper Out Now in JFR

Hi all. I am happy to note that a new paper, co-authored with Johannes Müske and Lijun Zhang, has just been published in the Journal of Folklore Research. I will try to find ways to share a version of it outside the paywall. For now (for those with interest and access) here are the Project MUSE and JSTOR versions.

Jackson, Jason Baird, Johannes Müske, and Lijun Zhang. “Innovation, Habitus, and Heritage: Modeling the Careers of Cultural Forms Through Time.” Journal of Folklore Research 57, no. 1 (2020): 111-136. https://www.muse.jhu.edu/article/751220.

Jackson, Jason Baird, Johannes Müske, and Lijun Zhang. “Innovation, Habitus, and Heritage: Modeling the Careers of Cultural Forms Through Time.” Journal of Folklore Research 57, no. 1 (2020): 111-36. Accessed March 14, 2020. doi:10.2979/jfolkrese.57.1.04.

My co-authors want to share our appreciation for the editorial staff, peer-reviewers, and audiences who helped make this paper possible. For anyone interested, I paste the abstracts below (look before the page one image):

Page One JPEG
Abstract

Since the 1990s, folklorists have become more deliberate in their use of the concept of heritage, with the term now standing at the center of our theoretical and policy debates. Heritage is both a phenomenon in the world that folklorists think about and a concept that we think with. In this article we build on classic and recent work, presenting an ideal type model of heritage that locates it within the flow of time and in relationship to other modes of culture—particularly innovation and normative culture or, in a somewhat different framework, habitus. The heuristic offered emphasizes the different degrees of metacultural salience characteristic of a cultural form in a particular social, cultural, and historical context and aims to supplement critical perspectives that are particularly focused on formal heritage policies.

Abstract

Seit den 1990er Jahren wird das Konzept Kulturerbe in den volkskundlichen Kulturwissenschaften zuneh-mend reflektiert. Der Begriff ist zentral für heutige Theorie- und Policy-Debatten im Fach: Kulturerbe ist sowohl ein Phänomen über das als auch ein Konzept mit dem KulturwissenschaftlerInnen nachdenken. In diesem Artikel entwerfen wir, aufbauend auf klassischen und aktuellen Studien, ein idealtypisches Modell von Kulturerbe, welches Kulturerbe zeitlich und in Relation zu anderen kulturalen Modi anordnet—insbesondere zu Innovation und kulturellen Normen (in anderer theoretischer Lesart auch Habitus). Die vorgeschlagene Heuristik betont den metakulturellen Charakter einer kulturellen Form und die unterschiedlichen Grade der Bewusstheit in einem bestimmten sozialen, kulturellen und historischen Kontext und möchte kritische Perspektiven auf Kulturerbe-Politiken ergänzen.

Abstract

自20世纪90年代以来,民俗学者对遗产概念的使用变得更具思考性,现在这一术语已经成为我们理论和政策辩论的焦点。遗产即是民俗学者思考的全球现象,也是我们用于思考的一个概念。本文以经典研究和近期成果为基础,提出一个遗产的理想型模型。该模型把遗产置于时间之流中和与其他文化模式的关系之中,特别是与创新和惯常文化的关系之中,惯常文化在某种不同的框架里也被称为惯习。本文的启发性在于强调在特定社会、文化和历史语境中文化形式的元文化程度是不同的,本文也意在补充那些侧重于官方遗产政策的批判性观点。

Remembered Visits to Seminole and Miccosukee Country

Some readers of Shreds and Patches know that I just lost my father KBJ (1935-2020). Others know that I am presently returning to my studies of craft from the Native South after the conclusion of my Directorship (2013-2019) of the Mathers Museum of World Cultures. With my father on my mind and in a time in which my family has been spending a lot of time looking at old family photographs, my father’s life and influence on me can be linked to my renewed studies.

While I was still in grade school (6th grade maybe?), my father brought me to the section of the Miccosukee Reservation on the Tamiami Trail west of Miami. We went at the time of the event presently called the Miccosukee Indian Arts and Crafts Festival. I recall watching a visiting Kevin Locke (Lakota) hoop dancing and seeing a lot of patchwork and other Seminole/Miccosukee crafts. In those days a would-be patchwork jacket buyer could sort through hundreds of off-the-rack examples. I recall eating sofkee for the first time–out of a paper cup from a food stand.

I do not know if he began collecting Seminole dolls on that visit or not, but in the years since that period, his collection grew and grew. After his collection was damaged in a house fire, he started again. A part of his second collection is shown below.

2016-02-01 Ken Jackson Seminole Dolls

Seminole Dolls from My Father’s Collection.

In taking me to Seminole/Miccosukee country, my dad was repeating an experience of his own youth. As shown in the other picture I share below, my dad was taken to a Seminole tourist camp when he was little. I do not know specifically where he was taken (by my step grandmother?), but this would have been in the Musa Isle era.

When I think about the path that my own life has taken, I think about how my father played a major role in leading me to the trailhead from which I departed. His own journey was remarkable and I am grateful beyond measure for the life course that he set me upon.

Kendall's First Visit to a Seminole Village Miami Fl Nov 14 1939

My father as a very small boy visits a Seminole tourist village near Miami.

 

New Project Pages

Here on Shreds and Patches, there is a new menu item for Projects. The Projects landing page gives a quick overview of, and links to, some of key projects that I am involved in and the menu can also lead visitors directly to project pages. Right now there are project pages for the “Museum Ethnography in the Native South” project (2020-present) and two sub-projects of the larger “China-US Folklore and Intangible Cultural Heritage Project” of the American Folklore Society and the China Folklore Society. These are the “Collaborative Work in Museum Folklore and Heritage Studies” (2017-present) and “Intangible Cultural Heritage and Ethnographic Museum Practice” (2013-2016).

IMG_7750

Near Old Dali, Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture, Yunnan, China, May 2019.

Material Culture and Heritage Studies in Northern Guangxi, China at #AFSAM19

I am here using a blog post not to share current news, but to get an older document online and linkable. What follows is the short (public) and long (unseen, for peer-review) abstracts from the panel “Material Culture and Heritage Studies in Northern Guangxi, China: Ethnographic Reports from the China-US Folklore and Intangible Cultural Heritage Project” presented at the 2019 American Folklore Society Annual Meeting (October 17, 2019, Baltimore, Maryland). My intention is to link to this post from a new (February 2020) page for the “Collaborative Work in Museum Folklore and Heritage Studies” (sub-)project. An earlier post on the panel appeared here.

Material Culture and Heritage Studies in Northern Guangxi, China: Ethnographic Reports from the China-US Folklore and Intangible Cultural Heritage Project

In a three-year phase of the China-US Folklore and Intangible Cultural Heritage Project, researchers from six museums have collaborated in a binational program of ethnographic research in China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. In this panel, project participants will report on the research, sometimes emphasizing textile practices such as embroidery and basketry, sometimes focusing on heritage issues, sometimes discussing the lessons of the collaboration. The presenters will share their findings in accessible ways but China specialists may wish to know that research has taken place among the Dong people of Sanjiang Dong Autonomous County and the Baiku Yao people living in Nandan County.

Material Culture and Heritage Studies in Northern Guangxi, China: Ethnographic Reports from the China-US Folklore and Intangible Cultural Heritage Project

In a three-year phase (2017-2019) of the China-US Folklore and Intangible Cultural Heritage Project of the American Folklore Society and the China Folklore Society, researchers from six museums have collaborated in a bi-national program of ethnographic research in two counties in northern Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. In keeping with the larger project of which it is a part, this museum sub-project has focused on questions of cultural heritage policy and practice. The researchers have paid particular attention to various local textile practices in local Yao and Dong communities, considering these practices in their own terms and in relation to the ways that they are being impacted by such heritage practices as cultural tourism, master artist designations, eco-museum development, and formal training initiatives. In this panel, project participants will report on aspects of the joint work, sometimes emphasizing studies of such textile practices as weaving, embroidery, and basketry, sometimes focusing on heritage phenomena, sometimes discussing the lessons of the joint work. In most instances, presenters will touch on all of these aspects in varying degrees. Reporting on a period of field research recently completed, the presentations will be an early stage in a process that will lead to formal publications drawing on the research project. The presenters welcome feedback on these early reports of work recently concluded. The presenters will share their findings in ways that will be accessible to those without knowledge of Chinese ethnography. Specialists may wish to know that the research team’s work has taken place among the Dong people of Sanjiang County, particularly those living in and around the town of Tongle and among the Baiku Yao people living near Lihu town in Nandan County. These communities are home to the Sanjiang Dong Eco-Museum and the Nandan Baiku Yao Eco-Museum, key institutional partners in the research collaboration.

Sources on the larger collaborations that contextualize this specific project include volumes by J. Zhang and Song (2017) and MacDowell and L. Zhang (2016) and an overview by Lloyd (2017). Relevant works in material culture studies include books by Formoso (2013) and L. Zhang (2010). Studies of cultural heritage topics of relevance to the panel include Chio (2014) and a volume edited by Bumenfield and Silverman (2013).

References Cited

Blumenfield, Tami and Helaine Silverman, eds. 2013. Cultural Heritage Politics in China. New York: Springer.

Chio, Jenny. 2014. A Landscape of Travel: The Work of Tourism in Rural Ethnic China. Seattle: University of Washington Press.

Formoso, Bernard. 2013. Costume du Yunnan. Nanterre: Société d’ethnologie.

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

MacDowell, Marsha, and Lijun Zhang, eds. 2016 中国西南拼布 | Quilts of Southwest China. Nanning: Guangxi Museum of Nationalities.

Zhang, Juwen and Song Junhua, eds. 2017. Metafolklore: Stories of Sino-US Folkloristic Cooperation | 文化对话:中美非物质文化遗产论坛. Guangzhou: Sun Yat-sen University Press.

Lijun Zhang. 2010. China Folk Art Crafts. Beijing: China Agriculture Press.

The schedule of presentation from the conference program follows:

Diamond Session: Material Culture and Heritage Studies in Northern Guangxi, China: Ethnographic Reports from the China-U.S. Folklore and Intangible Cultural Heritage Project

Sponsored by the American Folklore Society, the Folklore and Museums Section, and the Transnational Asia/Pacific Section

Sarah Junk Hatcher (Indiana University), chair

8:00 The Fabric of Life: Baiku Yao Textiles in Huaili Village
Carrie Hertz (Museum of International Folk Art)

8:15 Field Research on Dong Textiles in the Tongle Area of Sanjiang County
Miaomiao Fan (Anthropology Museum of Guangxi)

8:30 Mijiu and Mai Wup: Trilingual Fieldwork and an Indigo Dying Method
MicahJ.Ling (Indiana University)

8:45 Imagination and Enlargement: Daily Performance and Life History in Ethnographic Video
Xiaoyan Liang (Anthropology Museum of Guangxi)

9:00 Notes on Basketry among the Dong People of Sanjiang County, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region
C.KurtDewhurst (Michigan State University Museum)and Jason Baird Jackson (Indiana University)

9:15 Building a Museum Collection of Work Baskets in Northern Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region
Jason Baird Jackson (Indiana University) and Lijun Zhang (George Mason University)

9:30 A Rice Basket: Basketmaking in a Baiku Yao Community (Film Screening)
Jon Kay (Indiana University)

9:45 discussion

Hertz - The Fabric of Life

The title slide from Carrie Hertz’ presentation to the #AFSAM19 panel.

%d bloggers like this: