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Tom Mould
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Tom Mould, J. Earl Danieley Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and Folklore; Chair, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Elon University.

PhD and MA Folklore, Indiana University. BA English Literature. Director of the Honors Program (2013-17), Director of the Program for Ethnographic Research and Community Studies (2003-14). Advisory Board Journal of Folklore Research (2016-present), AFS Media and Public Information standing committee (2004-2014), AFS-sponsored Teagle Grant (2009-2011), Advisory Board Mormon Studies Book Series (2013-present). Author of Still, the Small Voice: Revelation, Personal Narrative and the Mormon Folk Tradition (2011), Choctaw Tales (2004), and Choctaw Prophecy: A Legacy of the Future (2003). Co-editor of The Individual and Tradition: Folkloristic Perspectives (2011) with Ray Cashman and Pravina Shukla, and Latter-day Lore: Mormon Folklore Studies (2013) with Eric Eliason. Current book: Overthrowing the Queen: The Narrative Tradition of Welfare in America. Editor of special issue for Journal of American Folklore: “Fake News.” Documentary videos include a 7-part series on Indiana folklife, 4 episodes on Kentucky folk arts, and a documentary on kiln openings in North Carolina. Public outreach projects include permanent museum exhibit at the Mebane Historical Museum, fieldwork training and documentation at the Choctaw Tribal Archives, and “Voices of Welfare” project with local community partners involving material and online exhibits and resources.


See a videorecording of Tom tell about himself and what he would like to accomplish if elected to the Executive Board.

The challenges facing the AFS can appear daunting: cuts in national funding sources, threats to the arts and humanities as a vital part of a thriving society, the rapidly changing landscape of higher education, and general attacks on democratic processes and ideals. Many of these challenges will require the continued efforts of the AFS to partner with colleagues in the American Council of Learned Societies who share these threats and can provide a strong, unified position.

The AFS also faces continued internal challenges related to the health of both the society and the field. Recent efforts to address challenges such as recruiting new practitioners to the field, mentoring existing members, and diversifying the membership have been encouraging and will be critical to continue in the years ahead. As a board member, I will work to ensure that the society continues to develop support systems for inclusivity, not just diversity, by exploring a range of strategies including expanding our peer mentoring program.

Another particularly important challenge facing the AFS in the coming year also provides a distinct opportunity. This year, the 2014-2018 phase of our long-term plan comes to an end. As a member of the executive board, I would work as an advocate towards a holistic plan for the society with broad input from our membership as well as sustained collaboration with our various sections and discussion groups. The 2016 membership survey provided excellent data, but we will need to continue to provide avenues for our membership to help us shape the next five years.  

In addition, I see great potential in reviving the committee on Media and Public Information as a vital arm of the AFS, working collaboratively with members who have been particularly effective at promoting the work of folklorists through social and mass media. As part of this effort, I would work to build on the success of The Folklore Advocacy Toolkit by considering additional modules and revisions to keep pace with a rapidly changing media landscape. In addition to resources on writing press releases and letters to the editor, for example, we can develop materials to help folklorists write directly for online media outlets and engage the public sphere in discussions around the critical content of our work. We can also consider developing an explicit public-facing orientation to our AFS website for journalists looking for experts in a particular topic or issue.

Finally, as fellow educators from a range of disciplines increasingly engage in service learning and community-based research, the AFS can help harness the rich expertise of our membership to more publicly position our discipline as a long-time leader in collaborative, community research and programming. Similarly, as a board member, I would continue recent work to translate the deep-seated values of social justice that underlie so much of our work as folklorists into curricular and programmatic resources relevant across the spectrum of the AFS membership.

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