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American Folklore Society Announces 2017 Benjamin A. Botkin Prize Recipient

Monday, October 30, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Rosalind V. Rini Larson
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At its recent annual meeting in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the American Folklore Society (AFS) named prominent American folklorist Kathleen Mundell of Camden, Maine, as the 2017 recipient of its prestigious Benjamin A. Botkin Prize.

The Botkin Prize is given each year by the AFS and its Public Programs Section in the name of Benjamin A. Botkin (1901-1975) to recognize lifetime achievement in public folklore. Botkin—eminent New Deal-era folklorist, national folklore editor of the Federal Writers' Project in 1938-1939, advocate for the public responsibilities of folklorists, author and compiler of many publications on American folklore for general audiences, and head of the Archive of American Folk Song at the Library of Congress from 1942 to 1945—has had a major impact on the field of public folklore and on the public understanding of folklore. 

In its report, the 2017 Botkin Prize Committee praised the outstanding contribution of this year's awardee, noting: "Ms. Mundell, who currently serves as Director of Cultural Resources, a non-profit working with communities to develop strategies that help sustain their local culture, has created innovative programs and materials that have had a significant impact on particular communities as well as on the field of public folklore in general. These programs have provided new models not only for the field of folklore, but also for other public sector fields and have served as templates for efforts of cultural communities to conserve their traditional culture. All of Mundell's work has advanced the goals of public folklore – supporting communities in their cultural aims; advocating for cultural communities and traditional culture with civic entities and a broad public audience; and providing programs and materials that respectfully represent the history, values, and arts of our community partners."

Mundell's career highlights include over thirty years' experience in public sector folklore producing radio programs, training and educational programs as well as curating fourteen exhibitions on traditional culture and folk art. Previous to her tenure at Cultural Resources, Mundell directed the Traditional and Community Arts Program at the Maine Arts Commission from 1989-2001. Her collaboration with Wabanaki basketmakers resulted in a multi-tribal effort to preserve the ash basketry tradition and in the creation of the Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance. In addition, Ms Mundell pioneered a cultural inventory process called "Discovery Research," detailed in Sensing Place: A Guide to Community Culture as well as developed a place based community training program called Story Bank Maine. Mundell developed Maine's first creative aging program working with older adults on the connections between narrative and traditional arts and explores the generative impact practicing traditional arts has on healthy aging.

A resident of Camden who received an MA in folklore from Indiana University in Bloomington, Mundell received a research fellowship in 2006 from the UNC Center for Craft, Creativity and Design and published North by Northeast: Wabanaki, Haudenosaunee and Tuscarora Traditional Arts.

The American Folklore Society, founded in 1888, is an association of people who study folklore and communicate knowledge about folklore through the world. Our more than 2,200 members and subscribers are scholars, teachers, and libraries at colleges and universities; professional in arts and cultural organizations; and community members studying and conserving folk traditions. For further information on the Benjamin A. Botkin Prize, the 2017 awardee, or the American Folklore Society and its activities, please contact Lorrain Cashman, Associate Director of the American Folklore Society, Classroom-Office Building, Indiana University, 800 East Third Street, Bloomington IN 47405 or

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