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AFS Presidents
Current President of the American Folklore Society

Norma E. Cantú (2020-21)

Norma E. Cantú, the Norine R. and T. Frank Murchison Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Trinity University, worked in the Folk and Traditional Arts Program at the NEA and continues to promote public folklore programs in the community. She has authored, edited or co-edited numerous scholarly books including: Chicana Traditions: Continuity and Change; Dancing Across Borders: Danzas y Bailes Mexicanos: Entre Malinche y Guadalupe: Tejanas in Literature and Art; The Plays of Silviana Wood; Ofrenda: Liliana Wilson’s Art of Protest and Promise; Moctezuma’s Table: Rolando Briseño’s Mexicano and Chicano Tablescapes; Paths to Discovery: Autobiographies of Chicanas with Careers in Mathematics, Science and Engineering; El Mundo Zurdo: Selected Works from the Meetings of the Society for the Study of Gloria Anzaldúa 2007 & 2009; Inside the Latin@ Experience: A Latino Studies Reader; Telling to Live: Latina Feminist Testimonios; and most recently, meXicana Fashion, Politics, Self-Adornment and Identity Construction. She has also edited or coedited special issues of Diálogo, Poetry; Camino Real, Gloria Anzaldúa; and the American Studies Journal, Civil Rights and Beyond. She translated Gloria Anzaldúa’s Borderlands/La Frontera.

A prolific creative writer and poet, she published the award winning autobioethnography, Canícula, and most recently Cabañuelas, a novel based on fieldwork on fiestas in Spain, and Meditation/Meditación Fronteriza: Poems of Life, Love and Work. Her scholarly articles and books reside in the fields of folklore, literary studies, women's studies and border studies. An indefatigable advocate for young scholars she edits book series at Palgrave and at Texas A&M Press.

Past President

Dorothy Noyes (2018-19)

Dorothy Noyes is Professor at the Ohio State University with a joint appointment between the Departments of English and Comparative Studies and courtesy appointments in Anthropology, French and Italian, and Germanic Languages and Literatures; she also teaches in the Program in International Studies. She is a Research Associate at the Mershon Center for International Security Studies and served as Director of the Center for Folklore Studies from 2005 to 2014. Her ethnographic and historical research addresses the traditional public sphere in Romance-speaking Europe; she also writes on folklore theory and on the international policy careers of culture concepts. She is the author of Fire in the Plaça: Catalan Festival Politics After Franco (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2003); Humble Theory: Folklore’s Grasp on Social Life (Indiana University Press 2016); and the forthcoming Sustaining Interdisciplinary Collaboration: A Guide for the Academy (coauthored with Regina F. Bendix and Kilian Bizer, University of Illinois Press, April 2017). Her current book project is Exemplary Failures: Gesture and Reciprocity in Democratic Reform, and she is also trying to figure out the nature of common sense. Elected Fellow of the American Folklore Society in 2005, she has served on the executive boards of both AFS and the Société Internationale d'Ethnologie et de Folklore, and lectured or taught in 15 countries. Her interdisciplinary projects have included a six-year stint as Fellow of the Göttingen Interdisciplinary Working Group on Cultural Property. Among her courses are American Regional Cultures in Transition, Cultures of Waste and Recycling, Cultural Diplomacy, and Poetry and Politics in the 20th Century Mediterranean.

Recent Past Presidents

Kay Turner

Kay Turner currently serves as adjunct professor in the Performance Studies Department of New York University. She holds a PhD in folklore from the University of Texas at Austin and has worked as both a public folklorist and an academic scholar over her 35 year history in folklore. A Fellow of the American Folklore Society and recipient of the Botkin Prize, Turner lives in Brooklyn, New York, and currently teaches courses on folklore, gender, oral narrative, temporality and performance, and ghosts and their ontology. She co-founded (with Pat Jasper and Elizabeth Peterson) Texas Folklife Resources in 1984 and from 2000-2014 she directed the Brooklyn Arts Council’s Folk Arts Program producing major field-researched public projects inncluding Folk Feet: Celebrating Traditional Dance in Brooklyn; Brooklyn Maqam: Arab Music Festival; Black Brooklyn Renaissance, 1960-2010; and a seven-year long, annual September 11th Memorial series, including the 2006 exhibition of over 300 photographs in Here Was New York: Twin Towers in Memorial Images. Widely published in folklore, women’s studies, queer studies, and  folk and contemporary art, her publications include Beautiful Necessity: The Art and Meaning of Women’s Altars, an extended treatment of her dissertation on Texas-Mexican women’s home altar; Baby Precious Always Shines: The Love Notes of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas; and Transgressive Tales: Queering the Grimms (edited with Pauline Greenhill). Her published essays include "Because of This Photography: The Making of a Mexican Folk Saint” and "September 11 and the Burden of the Ephemeral.” At work on a new book about witches in the Grimms' tales, Turner also remains dedicated to her own artistic pursuits in singing, songwriting, performance, and alternative curatorial initiatives.

Michael Ann Williams

Michael Ann Williams serves as Head of the Department of Folk Studies and Anthropology at Western Kentucky University, where she is a University Distinguished Professor. She received her MA and PhD in folklore and folklife from the University of Pennsylvania and her BA in anthropology from Franklin and Marshall College. Her book Homeplace won the Abbott Lowell Cummings Prize from the Vernacular Architecture Forum. She is also the author of Great Smoky Mountains Folklife and Staging Tradition: John Lair and Sarah Gertrude Knott. Along with teaching, she has worked as a museum curator, historic sites surveyor, and public folklorist. Among her applied projects, she directed the Ravensford Oral History Project on behalf of the Eastern Band of Cherokee. Her research interests include vernacular architecture, Appalachian studies, historic preservation policy, cultural representation, early country music, and population displacement.

Diane Goldstein

Diane Goldstein is Professor and Chair of the Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology at Indiana University. She formerly served as President of the International Society for Contemporary Legend Research.She is co–author, with Sylvia Grider and Jeannie Thomas, of Haunting Experiences: Ghosts in Contemporary Folklore (2007), author of Once Upon A Virus: AIDS Legends and Vernacular Risk Perception(2004) and editor of one of the earliest interdisciplinary AIDS anthologies Talking AIDS: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (1991).Goldstein is also the author of numerous articles on the supernatural, vernacular health beliefs, folk religion, death and grieving, applied folklore, and narrative. Her ongoing interests include stigmatized illnesses, AIDS and HIV, health beliefs and cultural issues in health care, risk perception and management, public health law, rumor, legend and health narratives, legal narrative, and folk belief and religious folklife.

C. Kurt Dewhurst

C. Kurt Dewhurst serves as the Director of Arts and Cultural Initiatives, and Senior Fellow, University Outreach and Engagement, at Michigan State University, where he also serves as Curator of Folklife and Cultural Heritage at the University's Museum and as Professor of English. He is the author or co–author of: Artists in Aprons: The Folk Arts of American Women; Religious Folk Art in America; Michigan Folk Art: Its Beginnings to 1941; Rainbows in the Sky: The Folk Arts of Michigan in the 20th Century; Traditions at Work: Grand Ledge Folk Pottery; Michigan Hmong Arts; MSU Campus: Buildings, Spaces, Places, and co–editor of the Michigan Folklife Reader and To Honor and Comfort: Native Quilting Traditions. He is co–editor of the forthcoming publication Michiganders: Michigan Folk Traditions. He has also curated over fifty museum exhibitions and festival programs.

His research interests include folk arts, material culture, ethnicity, occupational folk culture, and arts and cultural
heritage policy. As a Professor in the English Department at MSU, he teaches courses in folklife, material folk culture, and museum studies. He is a past recipient of a Fulbright Grant to work in Thailand with the National Culture Commission of Thailand and participated in a French–American Foundation Arts Administrators Exchange Program in France. He was honored with the 2004 Américo Paredes prize by the American Folklore Society (with Marsha MacDowell) for excellence in integrating scholarship with engagement with communities. Most recently he has coordinated a major national cultural heritage training program in South Africa; co–curated the Carriers of Culture: Native Basket Traditions festival program for the Smithsonian Folklife Festival; and co–curated a major international exhibition entitled Dear Mr. Mandela, Dear Mrs. Parks: Children's Letters, Global Lessons in South Africa and the US.

Elaine Lawless

Elaine Lawless, who received her PhD in folklore from Indiana University, is Professor of English at the University of Missouri. She is the author of five books, as well as many scholarly articles and is the co–producer (with Elizabeth Peterson) of the documentary film on Pentecostalism, "Joy Unspeakable." At the University of Missouri she has received the Faculty Alumni Award, the Kemper Award for Excellence in Teaching, a Gold Chalk Award (for graduate instruction) and a Purple Chalk Award (for undergraduate instruction), and the Chancellor's Award for Research.

In 2002, she was named a Curators' Professor by the MU Board of Curators; in 2004, she was named MU Alumni Distinguished Professor. In 2003, she founded and is the producer of the Troubling Violence Performance Project, with Professor Heather Carver (director) of the MU Theatre Department. In fall 2005, the university also appointed Lawless to serve as director of its Center for Arts and Humanities.

Bill Ivey

Bill Ivey is the former director of the Curb Center for Art, Enterprise, and Public Policy at Vanderbilt University, an arts policy research center with offices in Nashville, Tennessee, and Washington, DC. He also serves as Senior Consultant to Leadership Music, a music industry professional development program, and chairs the board of the National Recording Preservation Foundation, a federally–chartered foundation affiliated with the Library of Congress.
He is also Senior Advisor to the American Folklore Society's China-US Folklore and Intangible Cultural Heritage initiative.

From May, 1998 through September, 2001, Ivey served as the seventh Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal cultural agency. Following years of controversy and significant budget cuts, Ivey's leadership is credited with restoring Congressional confidence in the work of the NEA. Ivey's Challenge America Initiative, launched in 1999, has to date garnered more than $19 million in new Congressional appropriations for the Arts Endowment. Ivey returned to Washington, DC, in the fall of 2008 to serve as Team Leader for Arts and Humanities in the Barack Obama Presidential Transition.

Prior to government service, Ivey was director of the Country Music Foundation in Nashville, Tennessee. He was twice elected board chairman of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Ivey holds degrees in folklore, history, and ethnomusicology, as well as honorary doctorates from the University of Michigan, Michigan Technological University, Wayne State University, and Indiana University. He is a four–time Grammy Award nominee (Best Album Notes category), and is the author of numerous articles on US cultural policy and folk and popular music. Ivey is the author of
Arts, Inc.: How Greed and Neglect Have Destroyed Our Cultural Rights (University of California Press, 2008),called by critic Benjamin Barber "an important book about democracy.”

Michael Owen Jones (2004–05)

Jones holds degrees in history, art, international relations, folklore studies, and American studies. A member of the UCLA faculty since 1968, he has taught courses on folk medicine, art, food customs and symbolism, vernacular religion, narrative analysis, fieldwork, folklore theories and methods, and tradition and the individual. For 12 years he directed a research center and archives and then chaired a teaching program. He has organized conferences on cultural diversity in the classroom, urban folklore, and organizational culture and symbolism.

Jones has served on the Board of Directors of the California Council for the Humanities, the Los Angeles Folk and Traditional Arts Program, and the American Folklore Society. He has undertaken major research projects on African American storefront churches in Los Angeles, Ukrainian icon painters in Canada, craftsmen in southeastern Kentucky, and Latino herbal medicine in Los Angeles.

Among his publications are
Why Faith Healing?, People Studying People: The Human Element in Fieldwork, The Handmade Object and Its Maker, The World of the Kalevala, Craftsman of the Cumberlands: Tradition and Creativity, Inside Organizations, Exploring Folk Art, Putting Folklore to Use, Folkloristics: An Introduction, and Studying Organizational Symbolism.

Jones has received grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Library of Medicine, and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. He is a Folklore Fellow in the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters and a Fellow of the American Folklore Society.

Jack Santino

Jack Santino received the MA and the PhD degrees in Folklore and Folklife at the University of Pennsylvania. While still a graduate student he began work at the Smithsonian Institution’s folklife program, where he remained for nine years. There he was a program coordinator for a variety of different presentations at the annual Festival of American Folklife on the National Mall, including Pullman porters and many different occupational groups. He coordinated the "Folk Medicine: Herbalists, Curers, and Healers" program for the National Museum of American History, and the Living Celebration series held in the Renwick Gallery. In 1983 he joined the faculty of the Department of Popular Culture at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, where he is currently a professor of folklore and popular culture.

He has worked on ethnographic films such as the multiple Emmy Award–winning Miles of Smiles, Years of Struggle: The Story of the Black Pullman Porter. He has published scholarly articles in all major folklore journals, as well as American Anthropologist and Natural History magazine. He is the author or editor of six books, including most recently Signs of War and Peace: Social Conflict and the Public Use of Symbols in Northern Ireland. From 1996 to 2000 he was the editor of the Journal of American Folklore.

In 1992–1993, Santino conducted field research in Northern Ireland with the aid of a Fullbright Research Fellowship and a British Council Attachment to the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum. In 2000 he was a guest professor at the Institute for North American Studies at the University of Alcalá, Spain.

Santino’s research interests include the celebration of American holidays and festivals; emergent rituals of death and politics, such as spontaneous shrines and public death memorialization; and the creative reinvention of ritual. He coordinates an annual conference on Holidays, Ritual, Festival, Celebration, and Public Display at Bowling Green State University.

Peggy A. Bulger

Peggy A. Bulger is director of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, the second person to hold that position since the U.S. Congress created the Center in 1976. A native of New York State, she holds a BA in fine arts from the State University of New York at Albany, an MA in folk studies from Western Kentucky University, and a PhD in folklore and folklife from the University of Pennsylvania. A folklorist, consultant, and producer, Bulger has been documenting folklife and developing and managing folklife programs for more than twenty–five years. She has been Florida State Folk Arts Coordinator (1976–79), Florida Folklife Programs Administrator (1979–89), and Program Coordinator, Director, and Senior Officer for the Southern Arts Federation (1989–99).

Bulger is the author of South Florida Folklife, with Tina Bucuvalas and Stetson Kennedy, (1994) and the editor of Musical Roots of the South (1992). She is the producer of many videos, including Music Masters & Rhythm Kings (1993), Every Island Has Its Own Songs: The Tsimouris Family of Tarpon Springs (1988), Fishing All My Days: Maritime Traditions of Florida’s Shrimpers (1985); and a number of recordings, including Deep South Musical Roots Tour (1992) and Drop On Down in Florida (1981). She is a member of a number of professional organizations, including the New York, Kentucky, and Florida folklore societies.

Jo Radner

Jo Radner received her PhD in Celtic Languages and Literature at Harvard University in 1971, and since then has taught Celtic studies, folklore, American studies, literature, women’s studies, and creative storytelling at American University in Washington, DC.

Her research areas include oral narrative, feminist folklore, early Irish and Welsh literature and historiography, modern Irish and Scottish folklore, the contemporary storytelling movement, and the rural culture and history of nineteenth-century northern New England—all interconnected by a fascination with narrative and performance that also leads her to create and perform her own original stories. She is past president of the Celtic Studies Association of North America and the Washington Storytellers Theatre, a co-founder of the Middle Atlantic Folklife Association, and currently a member of the Board of Directors of the National Storytelling Network. Her publications include Feminist Messages: Coding in Women’s Folk Culture (University of Illinois Press, 1993).

Strongly attached to her family’s home region of western Maine and eager to develop new careers in folklore and applied storytelling, Jo is moving out of academic life to live and work in New England as an independent folklorist, storyteller, writer and researcher. Aided by a Mellon Fellowship at the American Antiquarian Society, she is finishing a book on the creation and performance of handwritten literary "newspapers" in nineteenth-century New England. She also conducts fieldwork in Maine, and continues to develop and perform stories relating to New England life and history (including current research on Rogers’ Rangers, the eighteenth-century Indian fighters, and on the Western Abenaki).

Past Presidents, 1998–1888

John Roberts (1997–98)
Jane Beck (1995–96)
Sylvia Grider (1993–94)
Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett (1991–92)
Henry Glassie (1989–90)
Alan Jabbour (1988)
Judith McCulloh (1987)
Rayna Green (1986)
Jan Harold Brunvand (1985)
Bruce Jackson (1984)
W.F.H. Nicolaisen (1983)
Linda Dégh (1982)
Don Yoder (1981)
Alan Dundes (1980)
Roger D. Abrahams (1979)
J. Barre Toelken (1978)
Ellen Stekert (1977)
Kenneth S. Goldstein (1975–76)
Dell Hymes (1973–74)
D.K. Wilgus (1971–72)
Daniel J. Crowley (1969–70)
Richard M. Dorson (1967–68)
Samuel P. Bayard (1965–66)
Melville Jacobs (1963–64)
MacEdward Leach (1961–62)
William N. Fenton (1959–60)
Wayland D. Hand (1957–58)
Herbert Halpert (1955–56)
William R. Bascom (1953–54)
Francis Lee Utley (1951–52)
Ann H. Gayton (1950)
Thelma G. James (1949)
Erminie Wheeler-Voegelin (1948)
Joseph M. Carrière (1946–47)
Melville J. Herskovits (1945)
Benjamin A. Botkin (1944)
Gladys A. Reichard (1943)
Harold W. Thompson (1942)
A. Irving Hallowell (1940–41)
Stith Thompson (1937–39)
Archer Taylor (1935–36)
Franz Boas (1934)
Martha W. Beckwith (1932–33)
Franz Boas (1931)
Edward Sapir (1929–30)
Alfred M. Tozzer (1927–28)
Louise Pound (1925–26)
Aurelio M. Espinosa (1923–24)
Frank G. Speck (1921–22)
Elsie Clews Parsons (1919–20)
C. Marius Barbeau (1918)
Robert H. Lowie (1916–17)
Pliny Earle Goddard (1914–15)
John A. Lomax (1912–13)
Henry M. Belden (1910–11)
John R. Swanton (1909)
Roland B. Dixon (1907–8)
Alfred L. Kroeber (1906)
Alice C. Fletcher (1905)
George Lyman Kittredge (1904)
Livingston Farrand (1903)
George Dorsey (1902)
Frank Russell (1901)
Franz Boas (1900)
Charles L. Edwards (1899)
Henry Wood (1898)
Stewart Culin (1897)
John G. Bourke (1896)
Washington Matthews (1895)
Alcée Fortier (1894)
Horatio Hale (1893)
Frederic Ward Putnam (1892)
Otis T. Mason (1891)
Daniel Garrison Brinton (1890)
Francis James Child (1888–89)

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American Folklore SocietySister Society: SIEF
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