Education and Accomplishments: Katey Borland is Director of the Center for Folklore Studies and Associate Professor in the Department of Comparative Studies at The Ohio State University. In addition to being an award-winning innovative teacher, she has worked as a public folklorist, a nonprofit executive director, and a Dean overseeing community outreach and experiential education. She is the author of three books, a community oriented oral history project, Creating Community: Latino Immigration to Southern Delaware (2001); an ethnography, Unmasking Class, Gender and Sexuality in Nicaraguan Festival (2006); and a volume co-edited with Abigail E. Adams, International Volunteer Tourism: Critical Reflections on Good Works in Central America (2014).
Question: What is the greatest challenge or opportunity facing the field of folklore studies and how, as an Executive Board member, would you respond to it?
Response: Today we are facing a general, across-the-board contraction of employment opportunities for folklorists, which prevents seasoned folklorists, emerging professionals and students from having the kind of impact on the field and in the world that is necessary to maintain a robust discipline. I believe that preserving existing opportunities for folklorists both within and outside the academy and cultivating new opportunities is our collective responsibility as a society. Those of us who have full-time, permanent employment in the field need to be nourished by the perspectives that our less securely placed but often most energetic and creative members can offer. And precarious folklorists need their colleagues’ help to locate and create opportunities for meaningful work. If elected to the board I pledge to keep this critical issue on the table and explore how our special projects, our partner institutions and our base membership can expand the professional opportunities available to folklorists. The challenge of building and expanding our professional reach also offers tremendous opportunities to think creatively together about how to infuse our special folkloric perspective into new terrains of practice, and where to locate and connect with fellow travelers. As a person who has worked inside and outside of folklore and the academy, I will bring a broad perspective to this critical, ongoing conversation. In addition to doing the hard work of advocating for positions of all kinds for folklorists, I am committed to extending opportunities for mutual mentoring and to making our society open and welcoming to all.