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2014 Annual Meeting Theme Statement: Folklore at the Crossroads

For well over a millennium human beings have traversed the high deserts of New Mexico, trading goods and ideas. The trail from the heart of Mexico northward that became the Camino Real de la Tierra Adentro (Royal Road to the Interior) existed long before the coming of the Spanish in 1540. Likewise did the trade routes from the Mississippi Delta to California and from the Rio Grande to the northern plains. Well before the French dubbed it a "rendezvous,” the neutral Taos Valley was an annual gathering place where Native Americans swapped goods and knowledge. Myriad other routes have crisscrossed New Mexico, including the Butterfield Stage, the Santa Fe Trail, the Atchison, Topeka, and the Santa Fe Railroad, Goodnight-Loving and Chisum Trails, Route 66, and more recently, arts and heritage trails. Over centuries, these routes have transported people to the area, fostering ongoing cultural exchange of goods and ideas. Along with agricultural products came knowledge of their many uses, both as food and construction materials. Cosmological philosophies were discussed and religions blended.


Not much has changed. Sikh temples and Buddhist monasteries now share the Rio Grande Valley with Penitente moradas, Pueblo kivas, Jewish synagogues, and evangelical churches. Chinese environmental artists collaborate with traditional Navajo artists in revisioning the landscape. At its heart, Santa Fe, the state capital, continues to be a place of interchange. While traditionally home to unique and distinct communities, today Santa Fe is known for its vibrant and diverse population. It is in this spirit of the land as a cultural crossroads that we welcome members of the American Folklore Society to Santa Fe.


Just like the "City Different,” as Santa Fe is known, folklore is by its very nature a crossroads, encompassing varied approaches to understanding and sharing the artistic expressions of diverse cultures. An interdisciplinary field with numerous applications, folklore lends itself to consideration through the lens of the crossroads metaphor. For the 2014 American Folklore Society meeting, we encourage our colleagues to explore, interpret, and apply the idea of crossroads in multiple ways, including but not limited to:

  • Interdisciplinary approaches to folklore and folklife
  • Junctions of theory and practice
  • Stories of cultural collaboration and/or collision
  • Strategies for navigating changing demographics
  • Models for community engagement
  • Transnational migration and identity
  • Intersections of academic and public folklore
  • The convergence of continuity and change in folklore and folklife
  • The field of folklore in the 21st century
  • The theme of crossroads in folklore and folklife

So, come meet us at the crossroads, as we gather to exchange ideas and practices.



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American Folklore Society
Mershon Center, The Ohio State University, 1501 Neil Avenue, Columbus OH 43201-2602 USA
614/292-4715; fax: 614/292-2199; www.afsnet.org


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