Report on the 2012 Annual Meeting
Monday, November 12, 2012
Posted by: Lorraine Cashman
The AFS’s 123rd
annual meeting, on the theme of "The Continuity and Creativity of Culture,”
took place on October 27-27, 2012, at the Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans,
Louisiana—the location of AFS’s last New Orleans annual meeting in 1975.
Approximately 800 people registered for the event, making it the
largest AFS annual meeting in recent years (surpassed only by the Society’s
Centennial meetings in 1988 and 1989, which drew attendance in the mid-800s).
The full 2012 Program
has now been posted to the 2012 Annual Meeting page at https://afsnet.site-ym.com/?2012AM3;
you can download the 155-page pdf to find all the abstracts, general meeting
information, and indices, as well as the schedule that had been previously
In addition to their work to
review submissions for the meeting program, our 2012 annual meeting committee—the
members of which live throughout the state—did a wonderful job of creating
their own tours and sessions on the arts and culture of the city and region,
and on the social, economic, and political issues surrounding cultural
survival, resilience, continuity, and transformation anywhere—the theme they
designed for the meeting. Highlights
- the preconference "Saints and Sinners” tour of the city led by Nick
- the local
guide, "Making the Big Easy a Little Easier: Music Food and the Built
Environs Near AFS 2012,” by Frank de Caro, Rosan Jordan and Nick Spitzer
- the opening plenary presentation by New Orleans musician and jazz
educator Michael White of Xavier University;
- sessions on Mardi Gras (04-02); HBO’s Tremé (05-07); "Culture and Catastrophe” with
Chinese folklorists (13-08); Louisiana’s
endangered coastal Native American Communities (18-04); and New Orleans
musicians and street ritual performers (20-04).
In the past year, AFS
sponsored the work of a committee investigating the contributions our field can
make to historic preservation policy in the US. This Folklore and Historic
Preservation Policy Working Group assembled a pre-conference tour of New Orleans
neighborhoods rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina, and more than a half-dozen
sessions on folklore and historic preservation work, policy, and issues.
As part of AFS’s new Oral History Project,
managed by the Utah State University Library special collections division, AFS
re-launched a former annual meeting custom: a public interview of a senior
folklorist, recorded for placement in our Society’s archives at Utah State.
This year, Ray Cashman interviewed Henry Glassie. Along similar lines, Pravina
Shukla again coordinated a "Talking Folklore” session, a follow-up to last
year’s session with academic folklorists, this time featuring folklorists who
have worked in the public sector. The transcript of this session, like last
year’s, will go into the AFS oral history collection.
The AFS Cultural Diversity
Committee made efforts to reach out to new and returning meeting participants,
coordinating its Open Meeting and later, its Brown Bag, with the AFS Executive
Board’s Welcome Breakfast for First-Time Attendees, International Participants,
and Stipend Recipients, as well a session on Chicano/a and Latino/a performance
art, sponsored by the Chicano/a Section and the
Folklore Latino/a, Latinoamericano/a, y Caribeño/a Section.
Our colleagues from the Instituto
Nacional de Antropología e Historia in Mexico City joined us again in a session
(12-13) of presentations on the field of anthropology in Mexico—the field under
whose umbrella much of folklore work is done in Mexico.
There were several sessions
on folklore and folklore study in China and elsewhere in Asia, including the
presentation by Beijing folklorist Gao Bingzhong on intangible culture and modern ideology (13-08), several panels
sponsored by our Eastern Asia Folklife section, and an AFS-sponsored forum with
presentations by eight US folklorists who have been working in China (20-08).
Sections sponsored sessions
too numerous to acknowledge here; check each Section in the Index of Events in
Program for a full account.
Tributes to five colleagues
who passed away during the past year were read as part of the Time of Remembrance
during the Opening Ceremony: Charlie Bergengren (remembrance prepared by
Jonathan David and read by Diane Goldstein), Matt Bradley (Lisa Gabbert and
Andy Kolovos), Tristram Potter Coffin (Dan Ben-Amos), John Miles Foley (Claire
Schmidt), and Peter Narváez (Diane Tye). The text of these memorials has been
added to In Memoriam in
the Folklore Wiki. In addition, a Memorial board and table was located in the
AFS annual meeting registration area for other tributes to any of our departed
friends and colleagues.
publishers active in folklore studies, as well as several AFS sections and
other organizations, presented, distributed, and sold their work throughout the
meeting; see page 131 of the 2012 Program
for the complete list.
- The opening evening plenary session, programmed by the 2012 annual
meeting committee, featured "How New Orleans Traditional Jazz is a
Metaphor for American Life,” by New Orleans musician and jazz educator
Michael White of Xavier University.
- The AFS Fellows’ Francis Lee Utley Memorial Lecture, "Fried
Chicken, Quilts, and Hurricanes: Reflections on Fieldwork in Louisiana,”
was given by Fellows President Patricia A. Turner of the University of
California at Davis.
- Debora Kodish, founder of the Philadelphia Folklore Project,
delivered "Cultivating Folk Arts and Social Change,” the Presidential
Invited Plenary Address that closed the annual meeting on Saturday
- Donald Cosentino of
UCLA delivered the
Folk Belief and Religious Folklife Section’s Don Yoder Lecture in
Religious Folklife: "Why Did Gede
Let This Happen?: Catastrophe and Theodicy in 21st Century Haitian Vodou.”
- Michael J. Bell
of the Massachusetts Historical Society
presented the Music and Song Section’s Phillips Barry Lecture, "’I Am Going to Print a Book of Plays’:
Francis James Child's Road to the Ballad.”
- Sponsored by the Chicano/a Section and
the Folklore Latino/a, Latinoamericano/a, y Caribeño/a Section, New
Orleans performance artist José Torres Tama presented a performance
piece, "Aliens, Immigrants and Other Evildoers.”
- 2012 is the bicentennial of the initial publication of Wilhelm and
Jakob Grimm’s Kinder- und
Hausmärchen, and the Folk Narrative Section sponsored the Stith
Thompson Lecture, "The Crack In the Mirror: The Grimms as Storytellers to
the World,” by Kay Stone of the University of Winnipeg, as well as several
sessions on the Grimms’ work and influence.
- The Storytelling Section sponsored a pre-conference walking tour, "Spirits of New Orleans: A Backstage
Tour of a Haunted City,” led by professional ghost-story
tour guide Bloody Mary (Millan).
- The film Beasts of the Southern Wild was
shown Thursday evening; director/co-writer Benh Zeitlin, associate
producer Nathan Harrison, and crew members Alana Pryor Ackerman, Crockett
Doob, and Eliza Zeitlin were on hand to answer questions about the
Professional Development Workshops
- The Archives Section offered two pre-conference workshops, on
digital audio field recording, and on preparing and preserving digital
- The Education Section and Local Learning sponsored the 19th
Annual Folklore and Education Workshop, "Folk Arts in the Classroom: An
Arts Integration Model,” which highlighted approaches to incorporating
folk artists and the interview process into arts-integrated classroom
- The Public Programs Section sponsored a two-part workshop on
"Leadership, Succession, and Transition in Public Sector Folklore,” to
help public folklorists identify goals and challenges, and plan for
support in developing leadership and managing periods of transition.
- The second Public Programs Idea
Fair, sponsored by the Public Programs Section, provided a forum
for soliciting comments and advice from colleagues aimed at improving
programs/projects and finding other folklorists or organizations with whom
- The Public Programs Section also sponsored a workshop on producing
and promoting digital media-based fieldwork, in theory and practice, entitled
"Digital Media-Based Fieldwork Meets Public and Social Internet.”
- The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, with AFS, sponsored the "Folklore
Studies in a Multicultural World” Workshop, a day-long, pre-conference
workshop for invited, first-time authors to work closely with editors and
mentoring folklore experts on their book projects.
The 2012 AFS Annual
Meeting Poster Exhibition was on display on Thursday and Friday. This year,
posters focused on the annual meeting theme, "The Continuity and
Creativity of Culture," and on "Historical and Comparative Studies in
Folklore.” The poster exhibition, curated by Jason Baird Jackson of Indiana
University, opened with a reception during which Debra Lattanzi Shutika (George Mason University) and Dorothy Noyes (The Ohio State University) presented their comments on the poster
The number of Diamond presentations continues to rise since
the format was introduced at the 2010 Annual Meeting; this year, 50
participants made Diamond presentations, many in sessions dedicated to the
format, and some in sessions with papers on related themes. Diamond
presentations are short, formalized presentations structured by time and
images: each individual
Diamond presentation is seven minutes long and presents 21 slides that are set
to advance automatically every 20 seconds; the presentation is allowed
additional time for discussion.
and space was reserved to allow annual meeting participants to learn more about:
issues in libraries, archives, museums, and other collections of folklore (Ask
an Archivist!, sponsored by the Archives and Libraries Section); publishing
(Meet the Editors); participating in the Independent Folklorists’ Section and
discussion forum; and using the AFS website.
Opportunities for Students
complete round-up of opportunities for students was compiled and distributed
prior to the meeting; see p. xvi of the 2012 Program,
- A graduate student lounge, sponsored by the Graduate Student Section
- The Breakfast of (Folklore) Champions, with Barry Jean Ancelet,
Frank de Caro, Carl Lindahl, and Sharon Sherman.
- Several social events, including receptions sponsored by the AFS
Fellows, the Public Programs Section, and AFS.