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2019 Election: Thomas DuBois

Thomas A. DuBois, Professor of Scandinavian Studies and Folklore, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Thomas (Tom) A. DuBois  received his PhD in Folklore and Folklife from the University of Pennsylvania in 1990. His dissertation focused on Southeast Asian refugee students in Philadelphia public and parochial schools. From 1990 to 2000, he worked as a professor of Scandinavian Studies at the University of Washington, Seattle. Since 2000, he has worked as a professor of Scandinavian Studies and folklore at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His research and teaching focus primarily on Finnish and Sámi cultures, as well as cultural maintenance and revitalization among the Indigenous nations of Wisconsin. He is a past co-editor of JAF (2010-14).

I am honored to run for this position. There are three areas in which I would love to see our Society commit further energies.  First, having worked as a folklorist in two universities for nearly thirty years, I have witnessed the decline of academic positions for folklorists in area studies departments. Where once one could count on having folklorists in such departments, those positions have been steadily eroded by retirements and reallocations. A downward spiral is underway: there are fewer and fewer area studies departments where one can get training as a folklorist. That means that even if I—as the chair of an area studies department—want to try to hire a folklorist as an assistant professor, it is no longer likely that a search will turn up applicants. I would love for the Society to think and strategize about this issue. Second, as a former co-editor of JAF, and as someone who encourages early-career folklorists to make films and digital products as vehicles for their scholarship, I am frustrated that our Society has developed no real processes for substantive peer review of anything besides journal articles. We publish reviews of websites and films after they come out, but we have NO formal peer review process for these products that parallels what we do for articles. That does a disservice to Society members who work on any medium other than articles. I would like to see us develop a peer review process, as other academic societies have done. Finally, as someone who does a lot of engaged research and experiential learning in the American college context, I would love to contribute further to the vibrant ways in which professionals in our field are thinking about delivering education to students. At a time in which there is great pressure on institutions of higher education to make their curricula more relevant, more inclusive, and more diverse, folklore studies represents a fantastic model and an experienced partner.




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