JOSEPH SCIORRA, Director for Academic and Cultural Programs, John D. Calandra Italian American Institute, Queens College, City University of New York
PhD, Folklore and Folklife, University of Pennsylvania, 1996; MA, Performance Studies, New York University, 1987; BA, Anthropology, Art History, Brooklyn College, 1980. Author of Built with Faith: Italian American Imagination and Catholic Material Culture in New York City (2015) and R.I.P: Memorial Wall Art (1994, 2002); editor of Italian Folk: Vernacular Culture in Italian-American Lives (2011) and the social science and cultural studies journal Italian American Review; co-editor of Embroidered Stories: Interpreting Women’s Domestic Needlework from the Italian Diaspora (2014) and Graces Received: Painted and Metal Ex-Votos from Italy (2012); and articles in Sabato Rodia’s Towers in Watts (2014); Global Media, Culture, and Identity (2011); Teaching Italian American Literature, Film, and Popular Culture (2010); Are Italians White? How Race is Made in America (2003), and the journals Drama Review; Ethnologie Française; Urban Resources; Voices: The Journal of New York Folklore. I have curated exhibitions at the Brooklyn Historical Society, the Museum of the City of New York, and other public venues.
Folklorists are models for public intellectuals' engagement with the world. Folklorists are constantly negotiating different realms of information and activities in our research about and relationships with individuals grounded in local knowledge and the community-based expressive cultures we study. This exchange is true for all us, however we imagine and practice our discipline. For fifteen years, I worked as a sometimes thriving and sometimes struggling freelance folklorist in the public sector while also working as a digital project manager, environmental organization fundraiser, and record company temp. This eclectic and somewhat survivalist career path gave me an ecumenical grounding and a degree of resourcefulness that has served me well in my current position. Since 1999, I have worked at a university research institute where I conceptualize and implement an array of interdisciplinary programs, presenting scholars and artists working in various media, always mindful to position vernacular expressive culture and ethnography to the fore. If elected to the Nominating Committee, I will bring this range of experience to broaden and deepen the good work that is being done to represent the field and the organization. An Executive Board that represents the full gamut of member diversity is best poised to address current concerns and issues that will lead the American Folklore Society and the field into the future. I am elated by the various local, national, and international initiatives and partnerships AFS participates in; they serve to make our perspectives and voices part of a larger dialogue. I will work diligently and collaboratively with fellow Committee members to recruit candidates for the Presidency and Board as part of our engagement with the world.