Friday, January 17, 2014

The Work and Mission of Folklorists: 4 rules for ICH Brokers and Mediators

I've been doing some research for an article on Intangible Cultural Heritage brokers, facilitators and mediators, which I'm writing for Marc Jacobs, the director of FARO in Flanders. My neighbour and colleague, Jillian Gould, recently leant me her copy of Public Folklore, and this morning, I was reading the chapter by Bess Lomax Hawes, the American folklorist, researcher and folk musician.

Here she is, hanging out with the Clintons in 1993, like you would, if you were a kick-ass and award-winning folklorist:

In the book, Hawes gives some advice to members of the American Folklore Society, the discipline of folklore, and every folklorist under the sun.  But her advice is pretty applicable to any anyone in a research-based field. 

Here are her rules* for being a good folklorist:
1. Don't get lazy.
2. Teach as much as you can when you can - broadcast.
3. Recognize that the job is as yet unfinished and likely never will be.
4. Get out there and do some good hard fieldwork. That is where all your best ideas and your most important knowledge are waiting for you. If you do your work well, folks will teach you back.
Now, let's get out there, and do some work!


* taken from:   Hawes, Bess Lomax. "Happy Birthday, Dear American Folklore Society: The Work and Mission of Folklorists" in "Public Folklore" edited by R. Baron and N. Spitzer. Washington: Smithsonian Institution P, 1992. p. 65-73.

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