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2010 Annual Meeting

"Lay and Expert Knowledge” is the theme for the American Folklore Society's 122nd annual meeting, set for the Hilton Nashville Downtown in Nashville, Tennessee, on October 13-16, 2010.

Download the final program schedule for the 2010 AFS annual meeting

Download practical information for the AFS 2010 annual meeting

The members of the 2010 Annual Meeting Committee hail from a variety of places and institutions: from Nashville, former AFS President Bill Ivey of Vanderbilt University, Roby Cogswell and Dana Everts-Boehm of the Tennessee Arts Commission, Jay Orr of the Country Music Foundation, and musician and writer Larry Nager; Mark Jackson, Patricia Gaitely, and Martha Norkunas of Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro; Evan Hatch (President of the Tennessee Folklore Society) from the Arts Center of Cannon County in Woodbury, Tennessee; Scot Danforth of the University of Tennessee in Knoxville; David Evans of Memphis State University; Teresa Lloyd and Ted Olson of East Tennessee State University in Johnson City; and Katy Leonard of Birmingham-Southern College in Birmingham, Alabama.


The deadline for pre-registration has passed. You can register on site beginning Wednesday, October 13, at 4:00 pm at the following rates:

AFS Regular Member: $135
AFS Student Member: $55
AFS Low-Income Member: $55
AFS Independent Member: $105
AFS New Professional Member: $105
AFS Retired Member: $105
Non-Member: $180
Non-Member Student: $90
One-day Registration: $35

Meeting Theme: Lay and Expert Knowledge

Not everyone is a novelist, but everyone tells stories. Not everyone is an artist or a theologian, but everyone works to give satisfying order to the material world and the cosmos. Not everyone is a politician, but everyone negotiates power relationships in his or her social milieu. And not everyone is a doctor, but everyone looks after body and soul according to conceptions of health shaped in long-term conversation with other people.

The "lore" studied by folklorists has long been the object of learned suspicion. In the Middle Ages, theologians labored to eradicate peasant superstition. In the early modern period, grammarians purified the rudeness of vernacular speech and early scientists criticized "popular errors." With the triumph of professionalization in the late nineteenth century, medical authorities shut down the practices of midwives andnutritionists criticized the traditional diets of immigrant groups. In the twentieth century, scientific agriculture overrode traditional practice in the developing world and urban revitalization schemes disrupted neighborhood economies and systems of social control.

Today the stigma is as likely to go in the other direction. Clashes over science, ethics, politics, and economics have destabilized the authority of expert knowledge, whether of evolution, the definition of life, climate change, international conflict, or mortgage-backed securities. "Street smarts” are prized and the "ivory tower” mistrusted. Populists find applause in denouncing "cultural elites." Political theorists question the viability of democracy in a society wholly dependent on specialized technical knowledge for its everyday functioning. Critics of the failures of modern city planning or agriculture praise the particularistic knowledge embedded local lifeways and landscapes. Alternative and traditional forms of medicine find adherents even among physicians. Pharmaceutical companies fight to capture the "traditional knowledge" of indigenous peoples, while intergovernmental organizations strive to transform it into intellectual property and an instrument of economic development.

Since its formal inception in the late nineteenth century (in fact, since its foundations in the seventeenth), our field has studied local and lay knowledge, whether of health, nutrition, climate, agriculture, history, or the social order. It has documented and interpreted the ways in which everyday knowledge is constructed and transmitted, the relationship of knowledge to practice, how knowledge is granted authority or brought into question, and how informal knowledge is codified into systems. These issues are of scholarly interest in their own right, but their practical importance is also widely recognized, both by educators trying to impart codified forms of knowledge in the classroom and by professionals obliged to exercise their expertise in a complex social world.


Our host hotel for the Nashville meeting, the Hilton Nashville Downtown, is conveniently located one-half block from the museum, library, and archives of the Country Music Foundation, including the Country Music Hall of Fame; and one block from the Lower Broadway district of music clubs and music stores, including such local landmarks as Gruhn Guitars, Hatch Show Print, Robert’s Western World, Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, and the Ernest Tubb Record Shop.

The Nashville International Airport (airport code BNA) is served by 19 airlines: American, American Eagle, Air Canada, Comair, Continental, Corporate Express, Delta, Delta Express, Frontier, Independence Air, Midwest, Northwest, Pace, Skyway, Southwest, United, United Express, US Airways and US Airways Express.

Nashville is also within a day’s drive of folklore programs at Indiana University, Michigan State University, The Ohio State University, the University of Louisiana-Lafayette, the University of Missouri, the University of North Carolina, the University of Wisconsin, and Western Kentucky University.


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