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Mariya Lesiv Awarded Insight Development Grant for Newfoundland Fieldwork Project

Monday, February 19, 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Rosalind V. Rini Larson
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Mariya Lesiv, an Associate Professor of Folklore at Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada, received a 2017–2019 Social Studies and Humanities Research Council of Canada Insight Development Grant (CAD $60,846) for her fieldwork-based project “Host-Region: Post-Communist Diaspora Communities in Newfoundland.” 

Newfoundland is stereotypically perceived as a place with an almost homogeneous Anglo-Saxon population and as a destination that is not popular with newcomers to Canada. In reality the province has experienced an ever-increasing flow of immigration over the last few decades, including from former Socialist countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Given that these immigrations are relatively recent, sometimes as few as one or two families represent a particular ethnicity or country. Thus, newcomers tend to seek out other immigrants with common historical, cultural, linguistic, and religious experiences, rather than a common ethnic background or country of origin. One can often find immigrants from various select post-Communist countries under the same roof, in both private and public settings. The unique immigration patterns as well as cultural distinctiveness of Newfoundland result in uniquely diversified diaspora identities, differing from those that can be observed in large centers of immigration. This project aims to explore these identities as formed and communicated via personal experience narratives, creative and expressive culture, and belief. Wyatt Shibley and Marissa Farahbod, graduate students in folklore at Memorial University, receive scholarships funded by this grant. They undertake their own research projects focusing on other diaspora communities in Newfoundland and conducting further comparative analysis.

This project will also have a public folklore dimension. Drawing upon their previous collaborative work on a similar project, Dr. Lesiv, in cooperation with Dale Jarvis, the Intangible Cultural Heritage Development Officer for the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador, plans to organize a cultural celebration event in 2019. The event will highlight the creative talents of some of the consultants who participated in the fieldwork stage. Graduate students will be involved in the organizational process to gain experience in public folklore.

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