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A Message from AFS President Dorothy Noyes
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3/14/2018 at 7:59:51 PM GMT
Posts: 106
A Message from AFS President Dorothy Noyes

By Dorothy Noyes —

Dear friends,

We’ve now been able to confirm the President’s Invited Speaker for the Buffalo meeting—Palagummi Sainath, a journalist specializing in rural India who has won both the Ramon Magsaysay Award (known as the “Asian Nobel”) and the first Global Human Rights Journalism Prize granted by Amnesty International. Best known for reporting on India’s drought-driven agrarian crisis, he broke the story of the skyrocketing rate of farmer suicides. His 1996 book  Everybody Loves a Good Drought: Stories from India's Poorest Districts became one of Penguin India’s all-time best-sellers and is still in print more than thirty editions later. His photo exhibition Visible Work, Invisible Women: Women and Work in Rural India has been exhibited at factory gates and in train stations all over India and also at the Asia Society, New York, and other international galleries. His current book project reports on the dalit population.

Observing that Indian daily newspapers barely covered the rural regions in which 70% of the population lives—833 million people—, Sainath left his job at The Hindu in 2014 to work full time on the crowdfunded and volunteer-sustained People’s Archive of Rural India, which he created and launched in 2013. Now inspiring emulation in other parts of the world, the People’s Archive documents “the everyday lives of everyday people”: resource conflicts, disappearing languages, women’s songs about sexual abuse, occupational traditions such as “toddy-tapping” for palm sap, rural sports, and a host of other practices, struggles, and pleasures.

Sainath is eager to engage with AFS and it is a great honor for us to host him. His work resonates in multiple and obvious ways with our own. In addition, his central observation, that rural areas only get news coverage when there is a disaster or a visiting politician, applies to the US just as much as it does to India. Accordingly, to enhance his visit, I would like to assemble a small cluster of sessions on Rural News. This will, in a sense, complement last year’s Fake News panels by having us look at real news that does not circulate widely. No illusions, no exclusions.

I suspect—indeed, I know—that many of you are already proposing sessions or papers that might fit this label. I’m hoping we can put them into dialogue, as happened last year with the several independently proposed fake news sessions.

Please reply to me privately—noyes.10@osu.eduif you are doing something that might fit. For the purpose, we won’t be too restrictive about what we are calling news—"stuff happening” will do for the moment—but instead can, I hope, reflect in the sessions themselves on what counts or might count as news and how else we might address the democratic responsibility of mutual attention-paying.

All the best,
Dorry

Dorothy Noyes
President, The American Folklore Society http://www.afsnet.org/
Professor, Departments of English and Comparative Studies; Affiliated Faculty, The Center for Folklore Studies,  The Mershon Center for International Security Studies
The Ohio State University
noyes.10@osu.edu



Last edited Wednesday, March 14, 2018

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