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Rachel González-Martin
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Rachel González-Martin, Assistant Professor of Mexican American and Latina/o Studies, University of Texas, Austin

With combined appointments in the Center for Mexican American Studies and Women’s and Gender Studies, I examine the performance and histories of practice of forms residing at the intersection of class, race and gender politics experienced by US Latinx communities of practice. I have been a proud member of the American Folklore Society since 2004, and have served on graduate student working groups, convener for the Chicana/o Section and the Folklore Latina/o, y Caribeño Section, served on the selection committee for the Zora Neale Hurston Prize in African American Folklore, the Gerald L. Davis Travel Awards, and the Cultural Diversity Committee.

I want to join the nominating committee to advance conversations around the impact of Society leadership to minority members, in order that the Society can imagine itself as an inclusive and flexible space that is explicitly welcoming of a new generation of American folklorists. In my transition from student to junior faculty, I have witnessed the society support the needs of sections devoted to minoritized members. This support of diversity is often claimed as an important strand in the continued growth of the discipline of folklore, and connects us to interdisciplinary theory from myriad related fields. This is one of the greatest strengths of the Society: its capacity to draw in scholars from around the country and the world in order that we might benefit and be inspired by diverse perspectives on our field as a whole. However, the Society’s diversity initiatives must become central to articulating the field in 21s century global intellectual contexts. The greatest challenge facing the Society is therefore also rooted in diversity—a lack of recognition of minority scholars and labor as integral to the field’s current social relevance on the academic stage. This lack is further exacerbated as minority scholars continually face a participatory environment of ambient discrimination in which non-minority members demand we disclose our personal lives in order to explain our relevance to individuals who would happily view us as “informants,” rather than fellow professionals. I want to help the Society establish statements on the discipline that model a collaborative vision of the field rooted in acknowledging “America(n)” as a hemispheric concept; the centrality of race in the study of cultural productions in the US; and the role folklore can play in social justice.

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