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Sheila Bock
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Sheila Bock, Associate Professor of Interdisciplinary, Gender, and Ethnic Studies, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

I studied folklore at The Ohio State University, where I earned my MA (Comparative Studies) and PhD (English with a Graduate Interdisciplinary Specialization in Folklore Studies), and UC Berkeley, where I earned my BA (Anthropology). The majority of my work employs narrative and performance approaches to examine vernacular responses to stigma. Additional research interests include the contested domains of illness experience, foodways, material sites of personal expression, the intersections between folklore and popular culture, and the multivocality of ethnographic research. My work has appeared in the Journal of American Folklore; Journal of Folklore Research; Western Folklore; Journal of Folklore and Education; Western Journal of Black Studies; Journal of Medical Humanities; Health, Culture, and Society; Patient Experience; Diagnosing Folklore: Perspectives on Health, Trauma, and Disability; The Stigmatized Vernacular: Where Reflexivity Meets Untellability; and Comfort Food: Meanings and Memories.

Folklorists have much to contribute to the public conversations taking place in our current political climate, though their perspectives remain relatively absent. As a member of the AFS Executive Board, I would work toward enhancing the visibility of our field, making the value of our disciplinary perspectives and insights legible to those outside our field and to the public more broadly. Relatedly, I would help facilitate the Society’s ongoing work to support and to actively participate in advocacy efforts that are so necessary in these troubled times.

It is also important for the Society to continue taking concrete steps to recruit, support, and retain members that represent diverse backgrounds and experiences. Attending to issues of diversity–not only in the work we do, but also in how we explicitly envision and enact our scholarly/professional community–is crucial for enriching the intellectual community the Society seeks to foster.

This work needs to take the form not only of explicit outreach, mentorship, financial support, and heightened visibility of diverse voices and perspectives in AFS-sponsored programs and publications. It also requires looking seriously at the limited employment opportunities for those who are trained in our field and to 1) strengthen and expand upon existing relationships and collaborations with other disciplines, organizations, and professional societies grappling with similar issues and 2) consider what additional roles the Society can play in supporting alt-ac career paths for folklorists.

All of these issues–visibility, advocacy, diversity, and employment opportunities–are inextricably intertwined. Attending to one requires attending to the others, and I welcome the opportunity to do this important work as a member of the AFS Executive Board.

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