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Olivia Cadaval
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Olivia Cadaval, Curator and Chair, Cultural Research and Education, Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. Smithsonian Institution

PhD The George Washington University, American Studies. I have been a program curator at the Center since 1988. Recent programs include Peru, Arts and Creativity: East of the Anacostia River, and Colombia: The Nature of Culture. In addition, I have produced curriculum enrichment materials, exhibitions, and Web sites, such as the bilingual site Assembling the Festival Program: Colombia. I have worked extensively on documentation, public programs, and education projects in the Washington, D.C. Latino community. I recently co-edited and wrote an article in the volume Curatorial Conversations: Cultural Representation and the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. I am currently working on an article on a Washington, DC, Salvadoran artist for Race and Cultural Practice in Popular Culture.,

How can the AFS and the field of folklore studies better and more visibly become useful to the expanding and changing world of scholarship, which has increasingly become multidisciplinary, culturally diverse, and technologically complex? What do we have to offer new generations of scholars who are equally multidisciplinary and versatile in social media? How can we help address current pressing issues: natural resource degradation, injustice, discrimination, violence, starvation, and natural disasters, and most currently, bigotry and intolerance? AFS has greatly broadened its relationships with kindred societies and international organizations involved in fields such as cultural heritage policy, but we should work with communities from the ground up. A beginning may be to engage in more substantive ways the new generations of scholars who come from diverse cultural and educational backgrounds. AFS has helped with scholarships and mentoring but it hasn’t changed the Society. AFS should be more proactive and should engage with a broader and more diverse group of scholars, cultural activists, and community practitioners in bold AFS-sponsored programming in its meetings. Many of us have attempted such programming but in competition with other sessions, only drawing like-minded scholars. Programming that will impact AFS and heighten its profile in an expanding and changing world of scholarship requires commitment and continuity. AFS can use its meetings but must go beyond and use other venues such as the Journal and social media. Collaboration with AFS sections could produce rewarding results: for example, the LatinX, ChicanX, Caribbean section, which represents a culturally and disciplinary diverse young group of scholars who are associated with other scholarly societies confronting similar issues, and who can serve as bridges to these and to communities.

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