AFS Creates Folklore and Museum Policy and Practice Working Group
Thursday, February 21, 2013
Posted by: Tim Lloyd
The American Folklore Society’s Executive Board
has approved the creation of the third in an ongoing series of AFS folklore and public
policy working groups, on Folklore and Museum Policy and Practice.
The members of the working group, who will
collaborate over the next two years with AFS support, are Marsha Bol and Suzy
Seriff of the Museum of International Folk Art, C. Kurt Dewhurst of Michigan
State University and the Michigan State University Museum, Jason Baird Jackson
of Indiana University’s Mathers Museum of World Cultures and Department of Folklore
and Ethnomusicology, Marsha MacDowell of the Michigan State University Museum, Charlie
Seemann of the Western Folklife Center, and Dan Sheehy of the Smithsonian
Institution’s Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage.
The working group has been focusing on the
growing number of folklorists who are working in and with museums to foster
greater presence of folklore in museum theory, practice, and policy. While
folklorists have made major contributions to museum theory and practice, the
working group proposes a focused initiative to (1) convene, (2) implement a
series of professional activities, and (3) develop and issue reports and
publications to examine areas where folklore scholars can contribute to public
policy and museum policies.
Over the next two years, they will:
1. Develop a white paper that will
address will trace the history of folklore and museums and this will be
accomplished by a literature review of the key published works, model projects,
and policy work.
2. Convene the working group with invited
museum studies scholars to identify strategies and opportunities for
involvement in museum policy and practice. Special attention will also be given
to including young emerging folklorists working in
museums. This convening will also seek to identify impediments or barriers for
deeper participation in museum policy and practice.
3. Develop specific strategies to
connect folklorists to the international movement to document and preserve
intangible cultural heritage, and to connect this work to the tangible
collections of museums. This would include connecting with the International
Sites of Historic Conscience and International Council of Museums.
4. Articulate an effective rationale
for the contributions of folklore to museums.
5. Prepare at least one article for
publication for the museum journal,
Curator or other leading museum studies journal/s that is drawn from the
6. Draft policy recommendations to
connect folklore in a more meaningful way to museum policy and practice.
7. Work with AFS staff to post relevant
resources in a special section of the AFS website.
8. Develop an electronic community of
folklorists working in and with museums in order of foster a learning community
to strengthen the communication and interaction among these curators,
educators, administrators, digital asset managers, scholars, etc.
9. Create a series of panels/forums as
the 2014 American Folklore Society Annual Meeting in Santa Fe—a host city with
an outstanding group of museums where programs can be offered and hosted.
Special tours and related programming would be developed to support this focus
on policy and practice related to folklore and museums. Special attention would
be given to issues such as the importance of connecting intangible cultural
heritage policy to the tangible collection development, management, and access;
new digital approached to collection development and use; new models for
sharing authority with communities where fieldwork/documentation is conducted;
the ethical policies of museums to enhance a more mutually beneficial sustained
relationship; and the potential of folklorists to influence and impact public
policy through their work with museums as safe sites of community dialogue and
as responsive institutions for social action.
10. Identify other professional
conferences and/or gatherings to present their work to national, state, and local audiences.
The complete proposal from the working group is available on
Previous folklore and public policy
working groups have focused on health policy and historic preservation policy.
The materials they created will be made available soon on this site.
deadline for applications for the support of a folklore and public policy working group will be December 15,
2014. See this page for more information.