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AFS Review: Notes

2019 Meeting Offers Professional Development Opportunities

Friday, October 4, 2019   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Alexandra Sanchez

You'll find a number of ways to build your professional skills at the 2019 Annual Meeting, whether you're just starting out or pushing yourself further. AFS is committed to providing diverse professional development opportunities for our field, and the annual meeting is a time and space to grow through panels or workshops, information sessions and a variety of events for networking and discussion with colleagues, experts, leaders, and grant-makers, this year including National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

Don’t miss the opportunity on Thursday to hear NEH Chairman Jon Parrish Peede share his ideas about what it means to be “community driven.”

New this year, be sure to take advantage of the mentoring breakout session (05-01), which expands on our long-standing mentoring program for students, and offers the chance for everyone, from students to retirees, to drop in for informal but meaningful conversations about their issues of concern and also to explore ways to be more involved in the field.

Here is a roundup of all the professional development opportunities on offer at this year's meeting:

Workshop: Intellectual Property, Cultural Rights, and Archival Documentation—A Community Conversation. Registration required; registration closed. Wed., 12:00–4:00 pm, Chesapeake A, 3rd floor

Dr. Seeger will answer questions and facilitate audience-driven discussion on legal and cultural rights pertaining to cultural and archival collections, then moderate a conversation between participants on rights issues that will include folklorists, archivists, and other cultural workers as well as members of Baltimore communities, offering participants a chance to discuss issues and incorporate perspectives from their own collections and communities. For more information, see

Ask an Archivist. Thu.–Fri., 9:00 am–12:45 pm and 1:30–6:00 pm; Sat., 9:00 am–1:00 pm; Constellation E/F, 2nd floor

Section members will be available to answer any questions about the care and management of archives and libraries.

02-08 Historic Preservation and Public Folklore: Successes, Challenges, and Failures in Responding to Community. Thu., 10:15 am–12:15 pm, Chesapeake A, 3rd floor

Sponsored by the AFS Working Group on Folklore and Historic Preservation Policy. Folklorists and historic preservationists drive community-based projects forward. Ideally, they are also driven by communities’ interests. Panelists will explore implications of community-driven work from a range of perspectives, and they will delineate results of work that addresses constituents’ needs. The session will include discussion of situations in which the goal of coordinating community-responsive projects can create challenges for folklorists working within historic preservation. Presenters will offer insights from a range of specific projects, and the panelists will also critique elements of historic preservation practice that may exclude and disenfranchise communities.

02-14 Grant Workshop for Folklorists and Public Folklore Programs. Thu., 10:15 am–12:15 pm, Conway, 1st floor

Grant officers from three federal agencies that provide grant resources relevant to the study of folklore and public programs in folklife and cultural heritage (and related fields) will conduct an overview of their grant programs, answer questions about resources and processes, and provide technical assistance to potential applicants. The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and the Institute for Museum and Library Sciences (IMLS) will discuss a variety of grant types—for scholarly research, media and archival projects, symposia, public programs, and cultural sustainability initiatives—as well as strategies applicants may consider in making competitive applications.

Ask about Grants. Thu., 11:30 am–4:00 pm; Fri., 1:00–4:00 pm; Constellation Foyer, 2nd floor

Stop by and chat with grantors from the NEA and NEH, along with members who are grantees of various funding programs, to discuss grant projects, strategies for successful applications, preparing strong narratives and compelling supplements, etc.

Ask about SIEF. Thu. and Fri., 2:00–3:00 pm, Constellation E/F, 2nd floor

SIEF Ambassadors Thomas A. McKean (Elphinstone Institute, University of Aberdeen) and Robert Glenn Howard (University of Wisconsin, Madison) will answer your questions about our sister association, the International Society for Ethnology and Folklore. SIEF holds a biennial congress that brings scholars and practitioners from across Europe and the Americas for four days of dialogue. Learn about SIEF’s thematic working groups, ranging from “Body, Affects, Senses, and Emotions” to “Migration and Mobility,” and its two affiliated journals, Cultural Analysis and Ethnologia Europaea. SIEF also has several initiatives to support networking among young scholars. Check them out at

03-14 The Ohio Field School: A University-based Collaborative Community Project on Rural Placemaking. Thu., 2:00–4:00 pm, Conway, 1st floor

Sponsored by the Public Programs Section. The Ohio Field School (OFS) is a collaborative multi-year project based around a university service learning course that documents Appalachian Ohio communities’ responses to economic, environmental, and cultural change through placemaking practices. The course teaches collaborative ethnographic methods and public-facing project development. Additionally, OFS launched a traveling exhibit in 2018 called “Placemaking in Scioto County, Ohio,” developed in collaboration with community partners. OFS participants (staff, a public folklorist, community members, and students) will provide a project overview. The session will then open to discuss our (and other) field school rationales, collaborative approaches, structures, logistics, impacts, and reflexive program design.

Festival of Ideas: Community-Driven Conversations. Thu., 6:00–7:30 pm, Harborview, 2nd floor

The Festival of Ideas gathers conference attendees from near and far to get to know one another and share meaningful conversations about issues that arise from our community-driven work. As folklorists know, faceto-face informal exchange is where some of the deepest learning and relationship building happens. Drawing from the interests of participants, we will divide up into smaller conversations, and explore the important issues, dilemmas, strategies, and experiences we encounter in our practice. All are welcome.

04-08 Fieldwork “Failures,” Part I: Agency/Community Challenges. Fri., 8:00–10:00 am, Chesapeake A, 3rd floor

As folklorists, our successful fieldwork endeavors lead to our presentations, publications, festivals, exhibits, and other products that we hope will further knowledge, contribute to the field, garner additional funding, and/or make a difference for communities with whom we work. But not all fieldwork goes as planned; in fact (if we’re lucky) much of it does not. Building on lessons learned from the reflexive turn, this forum (one of two) seeks to create a space for vulnerable dialogue about fieldwork “failures”—in this case, experiences in which community and/or institutional support (or lack thereof) created challenges for fieldworkers. See also 05-08.

04-15 Opportunities and Challenges of Partnerships between Folklore Programs and Arts Administration Programs in Higher Education. Fri., 8:00–10:00 am, President, 1st floor

Folklore and arts administration/management programs typically exist as separate entities at universities. The missions of these programs overlap, and real possibilities for mutually beneficial collaborations exist. However, institutional structures, disciplinary distinctions, and physical separation often get in the way of building partnerships between them. This forum explores the potential as well as the challenges for such partnerships by bringing together faculty from folklore and arts administration programs, public sector professionals, and students who have benefitted from coursework and mentorship in both.

05-01 Mentorship: Breakout Sessions for Mentoring Conversations. Fri., 10:15 am–12:15 pm, Harborview, 2nd floor

Individuals need mentors at many stages in their professional lives. In addition to AFS’s mentoring program stewarded by the AFS Mentoring Committee, which pairs mentors and mentees for conversations that develop over the course of the Annual Meeting and beyond, this morning mentoring session is an informal opportunity to come together around various conversation points with facilitators prepared for breakout conversations including: • New professional • Mid-career • Contract-based employment • Engaged retirement • Folklorists of color • Mentoring through #MeToo • MENtoring (Mentoring Men) • and others that emerge during the breakout session Participants may stay in a single conversation or dip into several breakout groups as they prefer. Participants can choose to stay in touch with contacts made during this session, but there are no expectations for followup beyond the session. Ideas raised here may help guide future mentoring efforts. Bring your breakfast and join us for this casual yet meaningful conversation.

05-08 Fieldwork “Failures,” Part II: Negotiating Story and Audience.  Fri., 10:15 am–12:15 pm, Chesapeake A, 3rd floor

As folklorists, our successful fieldwork endeavors lead to our presentations, publications, festivals, exhibits, and other products that we hope will further knowledge, contribute to the field, garner additional funding, and/or make a difference for communities with whom we work. But not all fieldwork goes as planned; in fact (if we’re lucky) much of it does not. Building on lessons learned from the reflexive turn, this forum (one of two) seeks to create a space for vulnerable dialogue about fieldwork “failures”—in this case, experiences of disappointment or surprise by individual fieldworkers when fieldwork and its reception back “home” did not go as planned. See also 04-08.

07-12 New Directions Forum: The Ethics of Digital Fieldwork Sat., 8:00–10:00 am, Camden/Lombard, 3rd floor

Sponsored by the New Directions in Folklore Section. Digital folk studies continues to evolve and expand its reach into new communities and cultures, necessitating a conversation on the role of the folklorist in these environments. Echoing previous reflexive moments in the history of the discipline, folklorists must examine their research methodologies, with specific focus on the emerging set of ethical questions and power dynamics created by the hybridized nature of participatory research. By bringing together various scholars on the front lines of digital folkloristics, this panel will work to explore ethical considerations of digital fieldwork and its applications as an educational and research tool.

More than the Right Questions: A Workshop on Interviewing for Learning and Engagement. Sat., 8:30 am–12:00 pm, Pratt/Calvert, 3rd floor

Interviewing is a core methodology of folklore that in educational spaces teaches important details about cultural context, artistic expression as communication, and the ways stories can help us better understand our communities. This workshop is designed for folklorists to learn techniques for turning their knowledge of interviews into well-designed educational programs, and for teachers to gain experience with the tools of folklore in education. Bonnie Sunstein, Simon Lichman, Diana N’Diaye, and Camila Bryce LaPorte Morris join Local Learning’s Lisa Rathje and Paddy Bowman in this engaging “Art of the Interview” workshop.

08-13 Disaster Response for Intangible Cultural Heritage. Sat., 10:15 am–12:15 pm, Douglass, 3rd floor

The Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative (SCRI) works to protect cultural heritage threatened or impacted by disasters and to help U.S. and international communities preserve their identities and history. SCRI projects include cultural rescue work in Haiti, Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Mali, Nepal, and the U.S., as well as disaster training for heritage colleagues, first responders, and military personnel around the world. SCRI is currently working to develop disaster response plans for intangible cultural heritage. This meeting will serve as a forum to share ideas and case studies, and build relationships for future collaborations to protect ICH from the threats of disaster.

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