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Luisa Del Guidice
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LLuisa Del Giudiceuisa Del Guidice, Ph.D., has been both an academic and public folklorist, and is currently an independent scholar. She taught folklore and oral history at UCLA (and as a visiting prof. at Addis Ababa University); founded and directed the public nonprofit, Italian Oral History Institute in Los Angeles in Los Angeles, which produced many conferences, public programs, and publications; and is internationally known for her work in Italian and Italian diaspora folklore studies. She is a Fellow of the AFS and a Cavaliere (Knight) of the Italian Republic.


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

The American Folklore Society has a unique role at this juncture in our national history, to stand firm as an advocate for the many cultures and peoples we study, collaborate with, and present in public venues--especially as anti-migrant and anti-refugee sentiment sweeps the world, and as civil and human rights in our own country are being eroded. The rising tide of white supremacist, authoritarian, misogynist, and exclusionary ideologies must be fought by each one of us and as a Society, even when that means speaking out against individuals in our own communities. I have been directly engaged in social action on many sorts: from food justice, interfaith and intercultural peace and justice initiatives, to migration and women’s rights. Recently, I have made social advocacy the topic of lectures and occasional teaching, helping students to consider similar engagement through their own work. I consider activism to be my primary role, integrating my academic work as a folklorist with advocacy on behalf of compassionate action wherever and however I can. Never before have, I felt our cultural skills and our knowledge to be more directly needed by the public at large. In our discipline, we learn to listen deeply to others and to our own hearts, as we consider our sense of purpose and unique ability to best engage with the world’s problems. We encourage students to do the same. I consistently attempt to direct learning toward serving the greater common good, as the case may be: of St. Joseph’s Tables designed to feed the poor and welcome the stranger where they are most needed, the Watts Towers Common Ground Initiative, which placed the internationally-renowned monument at the center of inter-racial peace and justice issues in Los Angeles, and the national anti-Columbus campaign recently spearheaded by Italian American academics to remove the national holiday in his honor and denounce him as a figure of Italian Americans ethnic identification, encouraging women to speak up and to lead on behalf of the Millennium Development Goals through the “Beijing Circles” process. Can more of us be encouraged to be engaged scholars and students? To identify areas of our own work that might serve a specific peace and justice issue? To find ways of applying that knowledge more directly? We could institute a mentorship program to help more members of the AFS do so. And offer workshops to build the skills needed. The AFS can support colleagues and students alike to be effective activists.

There are a number other issues I believe require our focused attention as a Society, including the pro-active support of all folklorists working outside of the academic and the public sectors, especially when traditional positions for folklorists become scarcer, and increasing international participation in our society, as well as our international reach—given that AFS has the unique ability to support and collaborate with similar efforts around the world. Ultimately, I would like to see us find ways to work for peace and justice at the local and national level, from our unique place as folklorists, a concern that appears to me to be most urgent.


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