Anand Prahlad, professor, Director Folklore Program, Director Creating Writing Program, Department of English, University of Missouri
PhD, Folklore, UCLA; Multiple Subjects Teaching Credential, California State University, Hayward; MA Folklore, Berkeley; BA, Virginia Commonwealth University. I have taught at many levels in a variety of locations, including K-12 schools, prisons, and alternative colleges, but I have spent most of my academic career at the University of Missouri, where, along with Elaine Lawless, I administered the folklore program, mentored many graduate students, and taught courses on African Diaspora folklore, literature, film, and disability. My publications include African American Proverbs in Context; Reggae Wisdom: Proverbs in Reggae Music; editing the 2005 Greenwood Encyclopedia of African American Folklore (3 volumes); As Good As Mango (poems); and The Secret Life of a Black Aspie: A Memoir.
The most pressing challenges and opportunities facing AFS and the field of folklore studies are not too different from those we have faced over the last hundred years or more. How do we move beyond the shadow of colonialism, in which our field was born and which continues in many ways to influence how we conceptualize the people and materials that engage the vast majority of our attention? How can we erase some of the boundaries between work in the public and academic sectors, between productions in the scholarly and artistic realms, between the theoretical and political, between research and activism? How can we become a more integral voice to conversations in diverse fields of the academy? How can we continue to attract diversity to our society and our field, at all levels and in all arenas? I believe that our Society should foster collaborations with other fields, agencies, and programs whose missions are aligned with ours, for example, Black Studies, Latino Studies, Disability Studies, LGBQT Studies, Critical Race Studies, Indigenous Studies, Global Studies, etc. Besides expanding our visibility and increasing our viability, such collaborations could mean jobs for more young folklorists and an expanded presence in the humanities. Along these lines, I believe strongly that we must also imagine creative ways in which to engage students early in their careers so as to ensure renewed energy, broader vision, greater diversity, and a future for new generations of folklore-centered scholars and cultural workers. The society already has begun moving in some of these these directions. If elected, I would work with board and society members, staff, and collaborators to address these and other pressing challenges.