Wanda G. Addison, Associate Professor, Department of Arts and Humanities, National University, Los Angeles, California
Ph.D, University of Louisiana at Lafayette where I first encountered folklore as a study. After my first folklore class, I switched my major area emphasis from literature and women’s studies to folklore, but I found both in my new intellectual home. Since 2013, I have been a board member of the African and African American Studies Research Center at the University of California, San Diego. My AFS service includes working with the meeting planning committee for AFS 2015 in Long Beach and serving as a member of the AFS Cultural Diversity Committee since 2014 where I am currently co-chair. I have authored several book reviews in Western Folklore and Journal of Folklore Research Reviews, with one forthcoming in WF. I also have an article forthcoming in MCR entitled “Black History Month Programs: Performance and Heritage.”
To the question of the challenges and opportunities confronting the AFS and folklore studies, first and foremost, I would respond to the challenges facing us with great hope, enthusiasm, and intention. Though we are in a challenging time in the field, it is one of significant opportunity to lay a broader path by building meaningful, productive relationships and partnerships with other Societies, both national and international, whose members are doing work that connects with and speaks to the passions and work done by folklorists. Thus, as a member of the AFS Executive Board, I would be committed to supporting strategies aimed at creating greater diversity within the Society and the field that I love. For the AFS and the field of folklore, the opportunities far outstrip the challenges, though the impact of such challenges as relevancy, isolation, and lack of substantial diversity cannot be underestimated. Work to develop greater diversity is closely tied to issues of relevancy and isolation. As we draw in diverse voices along the age/experience, race, ethnic, LGBTQ, and class spectrums, those who are unfamiliar with the work of past and present folklorists would find an accessible field of study. Sustained partnerships with Societies who have highly diverse memberships will help us achieve meaningful diversity. I recall a few years ago that in her Presidential Address, Diane Goldstein urged AFS members to engage with non-folklore fields through publications and conferences. I took this call to heart and have worked toward this goal with one sociological society. At times, I have been surprised by the complex intersections between sociological work and folklore. Where the boundaries between fields lay are opportunities to increase diversity within the AFS and folklore studies.