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AFS Review: Notes

AFS is Every Day; Give Now to Promote Year-Round Efforts to Support Folklorists

Tuesday, December 17, 2019   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Jessica Turner

As we wind down the year, reflecting back on an engaging meeting in Baltimore, we remember that our work as folklorists, and as AFS, happens throughout the year. Yes, the AFS meeting is a great time to connect, but AFS is every day.

AFS is every day because the Society is committed to projects and programs that benefit and connect us year-round. The work of the organization builds from the needs of its members, and this year, as ever, AFS strived to advance the study, understanding, affirmation and communication of folklore.

Currently, the new AFS Committee on Media and Public Outreach is thinking through how we communicate the relevance of folklorists’ work broadly to many kinds of audiences, connect with journalists and authors, and rework our website to be more inclusive, engaging, and clear. The continued work of the Cultural Diversity Committee and the Annual Meeting Planning Committee brings new members to interact and share ideas at the conference, resulting in a richer experience and a growing membership.

AFS sections are spaces where members bring expertise and energy to create deep engagement with the ideas and methods in our field. Last year, the new Folklore and Science Section convened for the first time to perpetuate dialogue across disciplines and traditions that seem disparate but are actually profoundly connected; the section has now raised funds for a new Prize in Folklore and Science to be offered in 2020 to further expand participation and awareness of research in this area. This year, the newly launched African American Folklore section creates a visible space for networking and promoting future work, complementing the decades-long work of the Association of African and African American Folklorists to mentor and support folklorists of color.

2019 marked the 25th anniversary of the Society’s cultural diversity initiatives. The annual meeting honored the anniversary with special events, including sessions on diversity, equity, and inclusion concerns, and an exhibition on “Notable Folklorists of Color: Remembering Our Ancestral Legacies” highlighting 25 scholars of color whose contributions expanded research in folkloristics and laid a foundation for folkloristic work by people of color in communities of color. Thanks to generous funding from the AFS Fellows, a companion website will make this exhibit accessible online and will continue to explore the contributions of folklorists of color to the field. Additionally, the local committee made an extra effort to engage local practitioners who came to the meeting for the first time. One innovative highlight of this outreach was the Festival of Ideas, a reception with breakout sessions, that created convivial space for outside-the-silo conversations about issues we face in the field.

Every year, we work throughout the year to advance our field on multiple fronts, in many channels. AFS’s ongoing activities support your efforts to study, understand and communicate about folklore, and help you build professional and social networks inside and outside our community. AFS is committed to the growth and strength of our members, undertaking initiatives to remove barriers and provide services to the field.  These efforts include

  • Publishing the Journal of American Folklore every year, and ensuring a continuing high standard of excellence through the transition to new editorial leadership in 2019
  • Collecting, promoting and distributing news from the field, including professional opportunities, events, recent releases and resources of all sorts
  • Fundraising to help bring students, folklorists of color, international members, and underwaged participants to our meetings
  • Fostering professional development opportunities
  • Advocating for our colleagues in academic and public sectors during shifting priorities of humanities funding
  • Participating in conversations about how to support scholarship in a changing publishing climate
  • Developing ways to better mentor students, newcomers, and professionals at all career stages
  • Exploring ways to support folklorists in contingent employment contracts
  • Aiming to improve the visibility of the field by expanding our audience and continually improving our communications, particularly using our website, social media and annual meeting-centered outreach
  • Launching a partnership with the Oral History Association to provide a series of joint professional development webinars

Every day, AFS connects all of us in the field, in ways large and small. We are fortunate to have gained the partnership of foundations that recognize the core value of our field, but these partners cannot enable all of the work that must be done to keep our connections strong and see growth in the opportunities for our members. People like you who share our belief in the value of these efforts have supported the work of folklorists for 130 years and continue to be vital to our day-to-day work.

The AFS Sustainers’ Fund is a way for Society members to support the AFS's growing profile of every-day activities each year. Anyone can contribute to the Sustainers' Fund, and in any amount, in a one-time contribution or in recurring, monthly installments. Your participation is what matters. Contributions to AFS, a non-profit organization, are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. The amount of your contribution will always remain confidential, but unless you would prefer to remain anonymous, we will add your name to the alphabetical list of Sustainers’ Fund donors.

The American Folklore Society is deeply grateful for your everyday support of our mission. The next generations of folklorists will be equally in your debt.

With many thanks,

Dorothy Noyes, AFS President

Jessica A. Turner, AFS Executive Director


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