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Danille Christensen
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Danille Elise Christensen, Assistant Professor of Public Humanities, Department of Religion and Culture, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg

PhD, MA, Folklore, Indiana (2009; minors: American Studies and Philanthropic Studies/Nonprofit Management); BA, English-teaching, Brigham Young University (1997; minor: Biology-teaching). Asst. Professor, Virginia Tech; faculty in Material Culture & Public Humanities MA program, member CLAHS Diversity Committee. Kluge Fellow, Library of Congress (2016). Senior Lecturer, Dept. of English/Center for Folklore Studies, Ohio State University (2012-2015); Visiting Lecturer, American Studies and Folklore, University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill (2011-2012). Civil Rights Oral History Project Research Associate, Library of Congress (2010). Published in JAF, JFR, Southern Cultures, and Museum Anthropology Review; book manuscript (Home Canning in the American Imagination) under contract with UNC Press. Service to the field: AFS Publications Committee, AFS Committee on Contingent Labor, AFS-sponsored Teagle Grant (2009-2011); Journal of Folklore Research Managing Editor (3 years) and Editorial Assistant (4 years). Public service: AmeriCorps Volunteer, Kaua‘i, HI (1997-1998), Virginia Master Naturalist (2017).

In a 2016 survey, the AFS membership indicated a desire to expand the impact of our work and to integrate diverse voices and concerns more effectively within the Society. Of special concern was the plight of our own precariat: those whose contributions come despite inhabiting insecure professional spaces. Changes to funding structures and priorities across all sectors have been accompanied by public discourse that favors instrumentality over inquiry and deems humanities degrees “unmarketable.” Many of our colleagues are both overworked and underemployed. Yet these and other challenges of the moment—increasingly uncivil society, destructive invocations of heritage, climate disruption—offer important opportunities. Public and environmental humanities scholars now work alongside STEM colleagues to highlight the human dimensions of science, technology, and agricultural production; increasingly public-facing collaborations blur outdated distinctions between “academic” and “applied” in order to explore how people wrestle with and adapt to change.

I have worked with folklore colleagues in public, nonprofit, and academic institutions across the continental United States and Hawai‘I, and have collaborated with skilled artisans, farmers, biologists, historians, and other professionals as I’ve volunteered, conducted fieldwork, built exhibits, analyzed data, and managed publications. As a member of the AFS Nominating Committee, I would draw on these networks to encourage an AFS leadership diverse in life experience and institutional positioning, one committed to creative trans-sector and transdisciplinary alliances. Nominees would continue the Society’s successful emphasis on international partnerships, student mentoring, exceptional scholarship, and social justice, but also focus on raising the public profile of our work and attending to the challenges facing new professionals in the field.

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