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Pravina Shukla

PRAVINA SHUKLA, Associate Professor, Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology, Indiana University; Associate Curator, Mathers Museum of World Cultures

An American, a Brazilian, and an Indian, I am a committed folklorist, oriented at once to academic and public work. Born in Norway to parents from India, I was raised in Brazil, speaking Portuguese first, Hindi second, and English when I arrived in California as a teenager. As an undergraduate at Berkeley, I studied folklore with Alan Dundes, which changed the course of my life. Today as an Associate Professor of Folklore and Ethnomusicology at Indiana University, the Director of Undergraduate Studies, and the director of dozens of MA and PhD theses, I strive to encourage others to pursue the study of folklore.

I received my BA in Anthropology at Berkeley, my MA and PhD in Folklore at UCLA. Since 2000 I have taught folklore, fieldwork, material culture, and museum studies at Indiana. As a folklorist in the public sphere, I have worked at the Fowler Museum of Cultural History, the LA Craft and Folk Art Museum, the American Museum of Natural History in New York, and the Mathers Museum at Indiana. My book The Grace of Four Moons: Dress, Adornment, and the Art of the Body in Modern India won the Coomaraswamy Prize of the Association for Asian Studies and the Davenport Award of the Costume Society of America. I recently co-edited The Individual and Tradition: Folkloristic Perspectives, and I am finishing a book on costume, based on fieldwork in Brazil, Sweden, and the United States. For the AFS, I have served as Exhibitions and Events Review Editor of the JAF, and co-chair of the 2011 AFS Program Committee. At Indiana, I received the Trustees Teaching Award in 2002, 2007, and 2010.

If elected to the Executive Board, I plan to use my personal and professional experiences to help the American Folklore Society widen its representation of populations, scholarly topics, and methodological approaches.

My personal background motivates me to reach out and expand the "American” in the American Folklore Society. As an immigrant and new citizen, I wish to see stronger engagement with immigrant groups within the United States, increasing their representation in the Society and encouraging initiatives to document and support immigrant traditions. The international thrust of my scholarship leads me to urge the AFS to stretch beyond the United States, engaging with international scholars and promoting more international participation in our meetings.

My teaching in the university and work in the public sector inspire me to give more attention to material culture. Important scholars with degrees in folklore have left us to establish new societies to meet their intellectual needs. I wish to encourage them to return and to foster the integration of material culture in our discipline, knowing it to be basic to the history of folkloristics and crucial to the work of folklorists in the public realm.

As a teacher of fieldwork methods and theories, I wish to advance the commitment to serious, in-depth field research. I hope to persuade the Society to support intensive fieldwork projects, locally, nationally, and internationally.

Greater emphases on immigrant and international folklore, on material culture, and on dedicated fieldwork – these are the matters I will stress to further our collective goal of integrating public and academic folklore, a pursuit about which I am passionate.

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