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"Belief Narratives in Folklore Studies: Narrating the Supernatural" Conference
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2/6/2019 to 2/8/2019
When: Wednesday, February 6, 2019
Where: Guwahati

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The ISFNR Belief Narrative Network will be hosting its 2019 conference in Guwahati, India, February 6–8, 2019, on the theme "Belief Narratives in Folklore Studies: Narrating the Supernatural." This conference is organized by the Anundoram Borooah Institute of Language, Art and Culture, Guwahati, Assam, India, and the ISFNR Belief Narrative Network.

One of the earliest genres in folkloristics has been the belief narrative in which traditional folk beliefs in the supernatural are given shape (and often credence) in popular narratives that (in the past) tended to be passed on in oral form. (Over time other forms of transmission have naturally evolved, ranging from the broadsheet to the internet and social media.) This material, found in numerous archives and collections of folk legends, and still evolving and coming into being around us in daily life, has been used as source material for a range of investigations. In recent years, folklore scholars have underlined the way in which such narratives commonly reflect the psyche of individuals, groups and society as a whole at a deeper level. These narratives, as Elliott Oring has shown (Oring 2012), draw on a rhetoric of truth, and are designed to provoke discussion. For those who are convinced, they commonly evoke or strengthen beliefs and have the potential to affect behavior and even change society.

Belief narratives can take the form of migratory narratives moving between countries and even continents. Others are naturally more localized. In the case of the legend, most contain a universal pattern of event followed by individual and/or social interpretation and an aftermath (see Lauri Honko’s famous article on the nature of the memorate (Honko 1989), and Tangherlini’s definition of the legend (Tangherlini 1990)). Narratives of this kind are naturally found in early epics and medieval narratives of saints, demons, trolls, and nature spirits, and still occur in our own time attached to the new “gods” that have come into being with the help of the modern forms of media. They are nonetheless not limited to the sphere of the folk legend, but can also result in new forms of behavior such as rumor-spreading, prejudice, witch-hunts and/ or activities (even sacrifices) designed to protect people from the influences in question, even in our own time. This conference aims at giving researchers worldwide the opportunity to share, discuss and engage with a range of aspects relating to the nature and role of belief narratives past and present.

For more information, including the conference CFP, visit the AFS Review.

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