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AFS Creates Folklore and Museum Policy and Practice Working Group

Thursday, February 21, 2013   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Tim Lloyd
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The American Folklore Society’s Executive Board has approved the creation of the third in an ongoing series of AFS folklore and public policy working groups, on Folklore and Museum Policy and Practice.

The members of the working group, who will collaborate over the next two years with AFS support, are Marsha Bol and Suzy Seriff of the Museum of International Folk Art, C. Kurt Dewhurst of Michigan State University and the Michigan State University Museum, Jason Baird Jackson of Indiana University’s Mathers Museum of World Cultures and Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology, Marsha MacDowell of the Michigan State University Museum, Charlie Seemann of the Western Folklife Center, and Dan Sheehy of the Smithsonian Institution’s Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage.

The working group has been focusing on the growing number of folklorists who are working in and with museums to foster greater presence of folklore in museum theory, practice, and policy. While folklorists have made major contributions to museum theory and practice, the working group proposes a focused initiative to (1) convene, (2) implement a series of professional activities, and (3) develop and issue reports and publications to examine areas where folklore scholars can contribute to public policy and museum policies.

Over the next two years, they will:

1. Develop a white paper that will address will trace the history of folklore and museums and this will be accomplished by a literature review of the key published works, model projects, and policy work.

2. Convene the working group with invited museum studies scholars to identify strategies and opportunities for involvement in museum policy and practice. Special attention will also be given to including young emerging folklorists working in museums. This convening will also seek to identify impediments or barriers for deeper participation in museum policy and practice.

3. Develop specific strategies to connect folklorists to the international movement to document and preserve intangible cultural heritage, and to connect this work to the tangible collections of museums. This would include connecting with the International Sites of Historic Conscience and International Council of Museums.

4. Articulate an effective rationale for the contributions of folklore to museums.

5. Prepare at least one article for publication for the museum journal, Curator or other leading museum studies journal/s that is drawn from the white paper.

6. Draft policy recommendations to connect folklore in a more meaningful way to museum policy and practice.

7. Work with AFS staff to post relevant resources in a special section of the AFS website.

8. Develop an electronic community of folklorists working in and with museums in order of foster a learning community to strengthen the communication and interaction among these curators, educators, administrators, digital asset managers, scholars, etc.

9. Create a series of panels/forums as the 2014 American Folklore Society Annual Meeting in Santa Fe—a host city with an outstanding group of museums where programs can be offered and hosted. Special tours and related programming would be developed to support this focus on policy and practice related to folklore and museums. Special attention would be given to issues such as the importance of connecting intangible cultural heritage policy to the tangible collection development, management, and access; new digital approached to collection development and use; new models for sharing authority with communities where fieldwork/documentation is conducted; the ethical policies of museums to enhance a more mutually beneficial sustained relationship; and the potential of folklorists to influence and impact public policy through their work with museums as safe sites of community dialogue and as responsive institutions for social action.

10. Identify other professional conferences and/or gatherings to present their work to national, state, and local audiences.

The complete proposal from the working group is available on this site.

Previous folklore and public policy working groups have focused on health policy and historic preservation policy. The materials they created will be made available soon on this site.

The next deadline for applications for the support of a folklore and public policy working group will be December 15, 2014. See this page for more information.

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