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Patricia Sawin

Patricia SawinAssociate Professor, Department of Anthropology, and Adjunct Associate Professor, Associate Chair, Director of Graduate Studies, and Coordinator of the Folklore Program, Department of American Studies, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (1998-present)

Education: PhD Folklore, Indiana University; MA Anthropology with a concentration in Folklore, University of Texas at Austin; BA English, Yale University; Previous teaching position: University of Louisiana at Lafayette (1995-98); Publications: Listening for a Life: A Dialogic Ethnography of Bessie Eldreth through Her Songs and Stories (2004), Reflections on the Folklife Festival: An Ethnography of Participant Experience (with Richard Bauman and Inta Gale Carpenter, 1992), articles in the Journal of American Folklore, Journal of Folklore Research, North Carolina Folklore Journal, and Text and Performance Quarterly, book chapters and encyclopedia entries; AwardS: Elli Köngäs-Maranda Prize for Listening for a Life; Courses on: folklore theory, narrative, gender and performance, ethnographic writing, linguistic anthropology, cultural globalization, childhood; Public folklore experience: Montana Arts Council, Delaware County (NY) Historical Association, Bureau of Florida Folklife Programs, Colorado Council on the Arts and Humanities; Service to AFS: Book review editor JAF, co-convener and prize adjudicator for Women’s Section; Member of AFS since 1983.

Members of the Nominating Committee face the challenge of identifying potential leaders for our Society who represent the diversity of our membership, are well-versed in the particular requirements of the wide range of tasks, careers, and institutions to which folklorists contribute, and yet are also able to think beyond the structures that have informed their specific work experience to envision novel collective solutions to the issues the Society must tackle, mundane as well as philosophical. The Folklore MA program I direct graduates a few students who go on to PhDs in Folklore, a few who pursue PhDs in sister disciplines, and many more who work in public sector agencies or develop unique careers in arts management, journalism, culinary arts, libraries, and other fields. They teach me more each year about what it can mean to work effectively as a folklorist in our evolving and troubled world. As a member of the nominating committee I relish the opportunity to become even more fully acquainted with the up-and-coming folklorists in our society so that I can help identify the hardworking visionaries who will lead us several more exciting steps down AFS’s already long and storied path. I anticipate that these leaders will advocate for ever more radical inclusivity and will have devised creative ways to engage a folkloric perspective to tackle social problems, but I also expect that—wonderfully—they will also surprise me.


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American Folklore SocietySister Society: SIEF
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