NORMA E. CANTU, Professor, Latina/Latino Studies and English, Department of English, University of Missouri, Kansas City
PhD in English, 1982. Research interests: ritual, dance, festival, women’s folklore, Latina/o studies. Relevant Publications: Canícula (fiction), Dancing Across Borders (co-editor), Chicana Traditions (co-edited). Numerous articles, chapters, and reviews. Editor of two book series for the Texas A&M University Press and Palgrave/MacMillan. Board Member: AFS (1996-2002), Texas Folklife, and the American Folklife Center (1998-2006). Other: Américo Paredes Prize (2003), Elli Köngäs-Maranda Prize (2002) Fellow of the AFS. Founding convener for the Chicana/o Section and active member of the Latina/o, Caribeño, Latin American, the Women’s, Creative Writing, and Public Folklore Sections. At AFS, I have assumed the role of mentor to Latina/o graduate students and assistant professors; reviewer for journals such as Western Folklore and the American Folklore Journal. While university based, I have also engaged in public sector folklore work.
I have been devoted equally to public and academic folklore because I see that in my own trajectory these have been one and the same, serving similar ends in different arenas. I believe that the one informs the other and that the social justice element in our work is best served through an integration of the two. The decline in membership and the onslaught against academic programs constitute challenges that invite us to creatively address the need to diversify and expand our reach as well as to establish the academic space for our work. As an AFS Board member, I would continue working to further the organization’s goals and objectives as a key player in the national conversation around conservation and diversity. I pledge to work indefatigably to insure that our field remains an integral part of academia and that public sector folklore programs flourish. At the center of this work, I place the integration of community scholars, international scholars, independent folklorists, incoming students and established scholars as we support each other. It is in our unity that we will forge the strength that will assist us to continue working to effect positive social change. I have seen folklore projects in academia and in the public sector transform lives; as a board member, I would insist on reaffirming our mission and celebrating our success while also pushing us to continue responding to the membership’s needs. I am an optimist and believe in the power of our work to make our world a better one. ¡Adelante!