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Emily Socolov
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Emily SocolovEmily Socolov.  Folklorist, visual artist, activist working in life history, cultural imaginaries, social justice. Founding Executive Director, Mano a Mano: Mexican Culture Without Borders, serving the immigrant community of NY; Project Director, Center for Traditional Music and Dance; Presenter/Researcher, Smithsonian Folklife Festival. PhD in Folklore and Folklife (UPenn), MA through Performance Studies (NYU), Licentiate in Museography (INAH/Mexico). Has taught folklore and anthropology at Southwestern University, Georgetown, TX; UT Austin; UPenn. Emily works with undocumented immigrants and asylum-seekers in family detention in Texas where she’s Visiting Scholar at the Schusterman Center for Jewish Studies at UT-Austin, researching the Left and the Cold War.

See a videorecording of Emily tell about herself and what she would like to accomplish if elected to the Executive Board.

Thank you for the nomination as candidate for the Executive Board of the American Folklore Society.  Perhaps it is a product of our current malaise that I hung on the word “challenges” and all but overlooked the word “opportunities” when I set down to answer the question being posed to potential new officers of AFS: “What are the most significant opportunities or challenges now facing the Society”. So let me then start with the challenges.

The challenges to our Society and its members come from a range of origins. Some of our challenges are held in common with other learned societies – some are uniquely our own.  Some challenges we share with other groups and individuals committed to education, intellectual pursuits, and a respect for human diversity.  Our times present great challenges for thinking, feeling people within and without the academy. 

So what are folklore’s (and the American Folklore Society’s) advantages?  Within the academy, in a period of academic siloing, our omnivorous discipline is in a unique position to work across interests and skill levels: around the globe and around the corner. We do not shy away from sharing our work with all segments of the population from readers of picture books to the most recondite of scholars.  We listen, we talk and most importantly we share back.

Ben Vinson III, Provost at Case Western Reserve University, and Board Chairman of the National Humanities Center in discussing the potential of scholars in restoring civility in a world marked by anger and a sense of entitlement might have been describing folklore’s mission: to turn around provocation through the lens of reflection, to promote a deeper understanding of context “restoring the parameters of any given story”, and getting out to communities, the spaces where we are most needed, through returning what we find back to communities. Through doing this, we can alter the national conversation from within.

If elected to the Executive Board, I will use my experience as an advocate for diverse communities, diverse learners and teachers to expand the public’s understanding of the necessity of folklore as an essential key to growing our humanism and compassion.





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