Marjorie Hunt, Folklife Curator, Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, Smithsonian Institution
MA (1980), PhD (1995), Folklore and Folklife, University of Pennsylvania. Employment: 1982-present: folklorist, curator, and education specialist at the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, combining academic and public work, field research, community engagement, and public outreach and education. Research interests: material culture, traditional craftsmanship and the building arts; occupational folklife, cultural sustainability, public folklore. Smithsonian Folklife Festival: curated or co-curated The Grand Generation, Masters of Traditional Arts: The NEA National Heritage Fellows, Masters of the Building Arts, and Carriers of Culture: Living Native Basket Traditions. Documentary films: co-produced and directed The Stone Carvers, The Grand Generation, and Good Work: Masters of the Building Arts. Publications: The Stone Carvers, The Grand Generation: Memory, Mastery, Legacy, “Delight in Skill: The Stone Carvers’ Art” in The Individual and Tradition, and “The Poetics and Power of Presentation at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival” in Curatorial Conversations.
I view the field of folklore and the work of folklorists as a social and cultural force in the world. I believe that the folklorist’s perspective and approach – interdisciplinary, informed by ethnographic fieldwork and research, grounded in engagement with individuals and communities, guided by respect for the tradition bearers with whom we work, and rooted in a long legacy of advocacy for the beauty and value of diverse cultural traditions, artistic expressions, systems of belief, and ways of life – have essential roles to play in making a positive difference in today’s world. As a member of the AFS Nominating Committee, I would bring a long-standing commitment to the goal of integrating public and academic folklore. I would work with fellow Committee members to continue to recruit leadership for the Society that strives to increase the visibility of the field and communicate the value of the folklorist’s work to a wider audience. I am excited about ongoing work to build strong collaborative partnerships with a broad spectrum of organizations in order to expand the impact of our work to multiple fields and to maximize our impact on cultural heritage practices, policies, and scholarship. It is imperative for AFS to develop initiatives that deepen cultural understanding and address critical issues of cultural equity and social justice. I would make it a priority to continue important efforts by AFS to strengthen and enrich the field by diversifying the leadership and membership of the Society to reflect multiple voices, perspectives, cultural backgrounds, areas of interest, and realms of expertise, including the increased participation of traditional artists and community scholars.