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Juwen Zhang

Juwen ZhangAssociate Professor, Department of Chinese and Japanese, Willamette University, Salem, Oregon

Education and career: PhD in Folklore and Folklife from the University of Pennsylvania (2001; MA in 1998), with a BA in China (1985) and experience in a MA program at Dartmouth College (1995). I have taught at Willamette University since 2002, and at a few colleges before then. Some of my folklore courses include Asian American Folklore and Identity, and Rites of Passage in Chinese Societies. My publications include A Translation of the Ancient Chinese 'The Book of Burial (Zang Shu)' by Guo Pu (276-324) (2004), Filmic Folklore and Chinese Cultural Identity (2005), and Recovering Meanings Lost in Interpretations of Les Rites de Passage (forthcoming in Western Folklore). I have also introduced and translated a number of important articles and books in folklore studies to the Chinese academia since 1984, including works by Dorson, Dundes, Ben-Amos, Abrahams, Oring, and, most recently, Documenting Ourselves (by S. Sherman; in Chinese 2011) and Les Rites de Passage (by A. van Gennep; in Chinese 2010). My dedication to folklore studies and the Society can also be seen in my services: initiated the AFS Eastern Asia Folklore Section (2005), organized a Conference on Everyday Ritual Practices in Chinese Societies (2006), hosted a Western States Folklore Society (WSFS) annual meeting (2010), and served at the AFS Nominating Committee (2008-2010), in addition to organizing panels at AFS and other folklore meetings and connecting Asian folklorists to AFS. Currently, I serve at the committee for the AFS project on US-China Intangible Cultural Heritage, and as Vice President of WSFS.

I believe that the current regional and global social and economic predicaments may be an opportunity to develop our discipline and to advance our Society because, in such crises of awareness of who we are and what we do, folklorists can make unique contribution to the recording of how folklore is transmitted and transformed in new environments, and to the understanding of how our everyday practices have reconstructed our identities at all levels. In these processes, however, we do have concrete challenges in studying folklore and in working on public folklore. We need to maintain the essence of folklore studies while we must also help safeguard folklore practices in adapting to changing societies. Some of the immediate challenges that I would concentrate on, if elected as a Board Member, can be stated as such: 1) to further engage in the discourse on the concepts and practices of cultural sustainability and intangible cultural heritage so as to strengthen interdisciplinary efforts in both academic and public sectors; 2) to increase the diversity of membership as we promote our Society; 3) to broaden our cross-genre research topics (e.g. Asian American folklore is rarely studied as a field in American folklore studies) and research collaboration at regional and international levels so that we are not just doing fieldwork of the others but also presenting our work with them. I look forward to serving our Society in a broad way.

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