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AFS Review: Notes

2019 AFS Meeting: Nordic-Baltic Section Guide, Baltimore Edition

Thursday, September 19, 2019   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Alexandra Sanchez

By Amber R. Cederström and the Co-Conveners of the Nordic-Baltic Section, Marcus Cederström, Tim Frandy and Mathilde Lind

Welcome to Baltimore and your Nordic-Baltic guide to the 2019 meeting of the American Folklore Society! We’ve divided our guide into three sections:

1. Special events
2. Panels of interest, whose foci or a significant portion of panelists are Nordicists or Balticists
3. Individual talks that may be of interest to our members

We’ve tried to be comprehensive and precise, but the program is subject to change and it’s possible we’ve overlooked a session or talk—in which case, we apologize.

Please especially note the section business meeting, on Thursday from 12:45–1:45, in Baltimore (2nd).

PDF of guide available here: 2019_20afs_20nordic-baltic_2.pdf

1. Special Events

Tours, meetings, and other events we hope you’ll enjoy attending!

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Opening Ceremony, 5:00–6:00 pm, Constellation A/B (2nd)
Welcome Reception
, 6:30–8:30pm, Atrium (2nd)
Dance Party with Junious Brickhouse and Friends
, 9:00–11:00pm, Harborview (2nd)

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Book Exhibition, 9:00am–12:45pm and 1:30–6:00pm, Constellation E/F
***Amber R. Cederström, assistant acquisitions editor at the University of Wisconsin Press, acquires in both folklore and Scandinavian studies and encourages everyone to stop by!

Nordic-Baltic Section Business Meeting, 12:45 pm–1:45 pm, Baltimore (2nd)
***All members should attend. Please note that this meeting occurs during lunch time.

AFS Award Ceremony, 5:00–5:30pm, Constellation A/B (2nd)

Plenary Address by Jon Parrish Peede, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, 5:30–6:00pm, Constellation A/B (2nd)

Friday, October 18, 2019

Book Exhibition, 9:00am–12:45pm and 1:30–6:00pm, Constellation E/F
***Amber R. Cederström, assistant acquisitions editor at the University of Wisconsin Press, acquires in both folklore and Scandinavian studies and encourages everyone to stop by!

Workshop: Crowd-Sourced and Community Driven—An AFS Wikipedia Edit-a-thon, 12:30–1:45pm, President, 1st Floor

***Sponsored by the American Folklore Society and the Nordic-Baltic Folklore Section

B. Marcus Cederström (University of Wisconsin, Madison) and Virginia Siegel (Arkansas Folk and Traditional Arts, University of Arkansas Libraries), chairs

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Book Exhibition, 9:00am–12:45pm and 1:30–6:00pm, Constellation E/F
***Amber R. Cederström, assistant acquisitions editor at the University of Wisconsin Press, acquires in both folklore and Scandinavian studies and encourages everyone to stop by!

2. Full Sessions of Interest

The following sessions have two or more presentations that touch on Nordic and/or Baltic interests, or have been sponsored by the section.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

01-12 Fantastic Beasts in Medieval and Early Modern Literature

8:00–10:00am, Camden/Lombard, 3rd Floor  |  Judith Lanzendorfer (University of Findlay), chair

8:00 “The Other Prophets: Water Birds, the Seasons, Weather, Healing, and Memory in Medieval and Modern Icelandic Folklore” (Sean Heather Kalifinnaidan McGraw, Sacred Heart University)

8:30 “The Cat Who Counted All My Teeth and Other Uncanny Creatures in Scandinavian Witch Legends” (Amber R. Cederström, formerly Amber J. Rose, University of Wisconsin, Madison)

9:00 “Unborn Beasts: The Riddle of the Unborn in Folktales and in Shakespeare’s Macbeth” (Charlotte Artese, Agnes Scott College)

9:30 “‘I Do Not Lie’: The Devil and Truth Values in The Tempest”  (Judith Lanzendorfer, University of Findlay)

This panel focuses on beasts in Medieval and Early Modern literature. “The Other Prophets: Water Birds, the Seasons, Weather, Healing, and Memory in Medieval and Modern Icelandic Folklore” investigates prophecies about death/healing. “The Cat Who Counted All My Teeth and Other Uncanny Creatures in Scandinavian Witch Legends” focuses on animal familiars which engage in strange behaviors. “Unborn Beasts: The Riddle of the Unborn in Folktales and in Shakespeare’s Macbeth” focuses on Motif H792—the Riddle of the Unborn. “‘I do not lie’: The Devil and Truth Values in The Tempest,” focuses the half-devil/half-witch Caliban and his linguistic truth values.

02-07 Generation and Migration: Young Adults in Transit

10:15 am–12:15 pm, Baltimore, 2nd floor  |  B. Marcus Cederström (University of Wisconsin–Madison, chair)

Sandra Grady (Independent)
Kathleen Haughey (Vermont Folklife Center)
Mintzi Auanda Martinez-Rivera (Providence College)
Dorothy Noyes (The Ohio State University)
Ida Tolgensbakk (OsloMet)

This forum compares young adult migrants across cultural and historical case studies as a window into several current issues, including migration and social conflict, cultural authority and transmission, the globalization of social movements, and intergenerational justice. We will focus on case studies of Somali Bantu adolescents in a Midwestern housing project, young Swedish immigrants in Oslo, members of the P’urhépecha community of Michoacán who travel between Mexico and the U.S., Nepali Bhutanese musicians in New England, and young Swedish-American labor activists in the early 20th century. Panelists will discuss authority, traditional knowledge, and life cycle rituals in migrant communities, as well as social movements and remigration.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Collaboration and Culture Work in the Upper Midwest (04-12)
8:00–10:00 am, Camden/Lombard, 3rd floor |  Mirva A. Johnson (University of Wisconsin–Madison), chair

8:00 “‘We Have All Been Neighbors Here’: Arnold Munkel’s Norwegian-American Folk Music Collection” (Anna C. Rue)

9:00 “‘We Wanted to Save Something While There Was Still Something Left’: Restoration and Cultural Maintenance at the Oulu Cultural and Heritage Center” (Mirva A. Johnson, University of Wisconsin, Madison)

9:30 “Culture Works: Public Folklore and Collaboration in an Anishinaabe Community” (Tim Frandy, Western Kentucky University)

8:30 “The Arnold Munkel Collection: Preservation, Access, and Engagement” (Nathan Gibson, University of Wisconsin, Madison)

From the field to the archives, and from the archives back to the field, folklorists can play critical and changing roles in sustaining local cultural practice. This panel focuses on different public folklore projects in the Upper Midwest, looking at the different methodologies that public folklorists integrate into collaborative culture work. Collectively, these case studies present a cross-section of regional public folklore work that will highlight the changing roles of public folklorists in an era of collaborative curation, reciprocal ethnography, citizen ethnography, and community-driven projects.

3. Individual Presentations of Interest

 Thursday, October 17, 2019

(9/18/19 Withdrawn) 9:30 am “Finnish Ritualized Consumption of Cannabis as a Rite of Passage” (Akseli Virratvuori, Memorial University of Newfoundland)
Chesapeake B, 3rd Floor | Social Impacts of Health (01-09)

Due to deep-seated societal fears about drugs, drug consumption in Finland is a taboo, a profane act seen as counter to the sacred ideal order of the community. The breaking of this taboo can result in the trespasser being labelled a deviant and subjected to formal and informal repercussions. In response, Finnish cannabis consumers employ ritualized action as a means of establishing order and structure that society does not otherwise provide. Via ritualization, cannabis consumption becomes a rite of passage, producing a sense of communitas that provides structure and normalizes the event and the consumption of cannabis itself.

9:30 am “Community or Exceptionality? Narratives of Blood Brotherhood in German Culture” (Alina Dana Weber, Florida State University)
Charles, 3rd Floor | Boundaries and Belonging in Narrative (01-10)

From Nordic sagas, folktales, and medieval epics to Thomas Mann’s novels and Richard Wagner’s operas and from colonial literature to popular films, narratives about blood brotherhood have always abounded in German culture. This presentation examines examples of such bonds in German texts, films, and performances throughout time. The goal is to tease out the current structural model of blood brotherhood and, based on it, to analyze these bonds’ continuing relevance and community-creating potential. Ultimately, the analysis engages with the paradox of the blood brotherhood narratives’ exceptionalist ideology and their community-creating potential (for example in festivals).

2:00 pm “‘It is Hard To Be a Culture Carrier’: Exploring How Representative Roles of Faroese Chain Dancers Affect Their Experience of the Dance” (Tóta Árnadóttir, University of the Faroe Islands)
Baltimore, 2nd Floor | Sounding Board: Embedded Meanings in Cultural Expressions (03-07)

When a cultural practice is labelled “intangible cultural heritage” and official efforts are made to safeguard it, questions arise both as to what one is trying to preserve and who the keepers or heirs of the “intangible heritage” are. Based on fieldwork focused on the Faroese Chain dance, this paper explores how a relatively small community navigates between various expectations in order to keep their dance going, how they attempt to meet the challenge of recruiting new members to a group of practitioners without losing the feeling of exclusiveness and peer approval within the community.                                                               

Friday, October 18, 2019

8:30 am “Reframing the Story: MeToo’s Influence on Presentations of Personal Experience” (Sofia Wanström, Åbo Akademi University)
Annapolis, 2nd Floor | Women Reframing Tradition (04-06)

This paper discusses how the #MeToo movement may have had an influence on individual stories, by analyzing stories depicting sexual assault that were collected within the Swedish-speaking community in Finland in 2017. I reflect on how tellers position themselves in stories describing incidents within “gray zones” of sexual assault, after the campaigns that opened and broadened the discussion and understanding of these topics. How were these stories co-constructed within a community that introduced and allowed counter-narratives to be heard and discussed, and with what effect? Has the movement affected how women understand and position themselves in their stories?

10:45 am “Greta Thunberg and the School Strike for the Climate: ‘The Child’ as a Position of Enunciation in Climate Activism” (Kyrre Kverndokk, University of Bergen)
Conway, 1st Floor | Legendary Women: Role Models from the Past and the Present (05-14)

The Swedish 16-year-old Greta Thunberg has become a climate activism icon. This paper will discuss how Thunberg is ascribed and also takes a symbolic position as “the child” to authorize her message. There are at least three different notions of “the child” present in media representations of Thunberg. She is presented as a “Pippi Longstocking,” a representative of future generations, while right-wing media criticize her for being an “innocent” victim of cynical lobbyists. The paper claims that the public debate on climate change involves normative aspects beyond the climate, such as notions of childhood, agency, authenticity, and reproductive futurism.

3:30 pm “Heritage Wool: Sheep, Craft, and Community” (Mathilde Frances Lind, Indiana University)
President, 1st Floor | Heritage, Interpretation, and Community Empowerment (06-15)

For decades an international community of practice based on textile crafts has maintained a movement to recognize the survival of rare and local sheep breeds as integral to safeguarding living textile traditions. This paper explores networks of people, organizations, animals, and environments that make up this movement and the reciprocal relationships that exist between them. Focusing on the Kihnu Island sheep in Estonia, we see how sheep are at once individual living things, human cultural history made manifest, and workers who produce the material out of which so much of world textile history has been made.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

8:00 am “Laments, Tourism, Genealogies, and Festivals: Karelians in Finland Negotiating Continuing Bonds with Native Culture” (Eila Stepanova, Helsinki Collegium for Advances Studies)
Baltimore, 2nd Floor | Claiming Culture and Building Community (07-07)

In my paper, I will discuss the ways Karelians in Finland today represent and perform connections to their native culture, adapting it and bringing it into the present day. As examples of such Karelian community driven practices, I will introduce four case studies: lamenting courses, tourism of Karelian groups from Finland to Russian Karelia, genealogical research, and two annual Karelian festivals. The main point of analyzing such activities is seeing folklore as an instrument for constructing and shaping communities. Most Finnish Karelians and their descendants still maintain their Karelian identity, yet different Karelian communities define what it means to be Karelian in different ways.

9:00 am “Community Driven Underground: Sieiddit and the (De)Colonization of Sapmi” (Thomas A. DuBois, University of Wisconsin, Madison)
President, 1st Floor | Pilgrimage, Place Keeping, and Resistance (07-15)

Localized sacred sites —sieiddit—are long-standing parts of Sámi (Lapp) religious belief and practice, before and after Christianization. During the 19th and early 20th centuries, sieidi sites became widely explored and excavated by non-Sámi antiquarians and archaeologists, many of whom confiscated sacred objects for personal keeping or deposit in national museum collections. Narratives about such plundering, and strategies for resisting desecration were current among Sámi at the time and have continued to play important roles in the present, as Sámi work to recover and repatriate confiscated sieidi stones and sculptures as an act of decolonization.

10:45 am “Surveillance and Storytelling: Temporalities and Identity in the Norwegian Surveillance Debate” (Guro Flinterud, Norwegian Police University College)
Camden/Lombard, 3rd Floor | Media, Community, and Advocacy (08-12)

The surveillance debate is a polarized debate, often represented as a tug of war between questions of privacy and security. In this paper, I claim that the surveillance debate is not so much a debate about surveillance, as a site for negotiating identity, telling stories about who we are. This paper presents a close reading of the public debate on government surveillance in Norway from 2009 to 2017, suggesting that a narrative approach is necessary to properly understand the irreconcilable polarization of the debate.

10:45 am “Memory Ideologies in Ingrian Finnish Testimonies of the Gulag and Soviet Terror” (Ulla Savolainen, University of Helsinki)
Conway, 1st Floor | Folklore and Theory across Disciplines (08-14)

This presentation focuses on what will be termed memory ideologies, namely, the underlying conceptions concerning the nature, functions, and consequences of memory reflected in Ingrian Finnish testimonies of the Gulag and Soviet terror. Ingrian Finns are a historical minority of Russia who used to live in the area surrounding the city of Saint Petersburg/Leningrad. Ingrian Finns descend from Lutheran Finns who immigrated to the area in the 17th century, during the era of the Swedish Empire. It will be argued in the presentation that memory ideology is a key to understanding the social and political import of memory in culture.

3:00 pm “Voice of the Folk: The Danish Ballad War (1847–48)” (Valdimar Tr. Hafstein, University of Iceland)
Annapolis, 2nd Floor | Voices of the Folk: Ethics in Music Documentation (09-06)

Although it set the gold standard for future scientific ballad editions, Grundtvig’s edition of Danish popular ballads was controversial in its time. The plans for its publication set off the so-called “Ballad War,” a heated polemic in 1847–48 involving some the era’s most prominent intellectuals. These polemical writings open up to scrutiny the relationship between authorship and its outside in the mid-19th century: the politics of voice involved in the making of the folk, the editor, and the author. At its heart was the question of who was entitled to speak with the voice of the folk and in its name.

2:00 pm “Exemplarity in the Play-Ritual Continuum” (Audun Kjus, The Norwegian Museum of Cultural History)
Charles, 3rd Floor | Sounding Board: Saying and Playing (09-10)

Performances of exemplarity have been recognized as both tradition and traditionalization. When used rhetorically, examples are played out within already structured settings, as figures within frames, always situated within some series, pointing backwards to inherited cultural authority and forwards to future realization (Lyons 1989). I will present a couple of contemporary cases in order to explore how bodily exemplarity (Noyes 2016) can be acted out within the frameworks of play and ritual, highlighting play-ritual settings that are composite or ambiguous. Both the variable relations between play and ritual and the uses of exemplarity within the different settings will be examined.

3:30 pm “May 9 in Tallinn: A Local Holiday in-between States” (Elo-Hanna Seljamaa, University of Tartu)
Conway, 1st Floor | Building Bridges with Words and Deeds: Honoring Jim Bailey (09-14

May 9 stands in Russia and many other parts of the former USSR for Soviet victory in World War II and is observed with stately official ceremonies. In Estonia, it is a controversial and divisive vernacular holiday at odds with the official historical narrative of occupation. Victory Day is associated with Russian-speaking Soviet-era newcomers and their descendants who constitute a sizeable proportion of the population. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork, the paper analyses diverse May 9 traditions in Tallinn and how Russophones use them to carve out a position for themselves in the Estonian nation-state, in the capital, and vis-à-vis Russia. 


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