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Last modified: Monday, October 10, 2011

American Folklore Society's national meeting begins Wednesday at IU Bloomington

Oct. 10, 2011

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The American Folklore Society (AFS) will hold its annual meeting this week (Oct. 12-15) at Indiana University Bloomington, hosted by IU's highly respected Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology.

AFS chose as its meeting's theme "Peace, War, Folklore" to coincide with Themester 2012, "Making War, Making Peace." The organization has partnered with the IU College of Arts and Sciences and other groups to open several conference events to the public.

More than 700 folklorists from around the world -- including many IU alumni -- are expected to attend and exchange work and ideas, and create and strengthen friendships and working relationships.

"AFS meetings have almost always been held in larger cities, so it is extremely rare for a university to be selected as conference host," said John McDowell, chair of the IU Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology. "It is a testament to IU's importance within the discipline of folklore studies that the Bloomington campus was chosen for this honor."

While registration is required to participate in the meeting, several pre-conference and conference events will be open to the public. Unless otherwise indicated, the events are free. They will include:

  • The Branigin Lecture, "From Blood Feuds to Peace: Traditional Dispute Resolution Mechanisms in Ethiopia," by Fekade Azeze, a folklorist and associate professor of Ethiopian literature and folklore and coordinator of the graduate program at Haile Selassie I University, in Addis Adeba, Ethiopia. It will begin at 3 p.m. Tuesday (Oct. 11) at the Folklore and Ethnomusicology Auditorium, 800 N. Indiana Ave.
  • "Quilts and Human Rights," an exhibit at the Mathers Museum of World Cultures/Glenn A. Black Laboratory of Archaeology, 416 N. Indiana Ave. The exhibit, curated by Marsha MacDowell, a professor of art and art history and museum curator at Michigan State University, examines the ways in which textiles -- especially quilts -- have been used to demonstrate solidarity with movements dedicated to advancing international human rights, mark important events related to human rights violations and pay tribute to those who have played crucial roles. MacDowell will speak there at 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 27 on the topic, "Piecing Peace: Quilts as Visual Discourse of Conflict, Reconciliation, and Memory."
  • "Faces of Fieldwork," a photo exhibit also at the Mathers Museum, curated by Pravina Shukla, Carrie Hertz and Mike Lee of the IU Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology. It highlights the human side of fieldwork by featuring portraits of individual informants.
  • "Making Clothes, Making Do: Carol Wise and the Art of Daily Life," at the Monroe County History Museum, 202 E. Sixth St. Textile artist and costume interpreter Carol Wise's clothes-making offers a sense of self-sufficiency and continuity with the past. Her garments demonstrate a self-conscious rejection of modern wastefulness and dependence on mass production. Admission is $2.
  • "Tell Me a Story: Folklore and Folkloristics at the Lilly Library," an exhibit at the IU Lilly Library, 1200 E. 7th St.
  • "Folklore and IU: A Library Exhibition," curated by Moira Marsh, Denise Stuempfle and Shannon Larson of IU, in the main lobby of the Herman B Wells Library, 1320 E. 10th St.
  • "Tell People the Story: The Art of Gustav Potthoff" curated by Jon Kay of Traditional Arts Indiana, in the Indiana Memorial Union Garden, 900 E. 7th St. Potthoff paints to remember his fellow prisoners who built the Bridge over the River Kwai and the Hell Fire Pass during World War II. Fearful that those 1,600 people who died will be forgotten, he paints to tell his story and seek peace among the horrors of his memories. He will be present each day to discuss his art and experiences. The exhibition is open Oct. 13-15, but there will be an opportunity to meet the artist on Saturday (Oct. 15), from 12:15-1:15 p.m.
  • "Folklore in Jerusalem Between War and (no) Peace: The Jerusalem Project 1991-2011," from 1:30-4:30 p.m. on Oct. 12 at the Mathers Museum. Israeli, Palestinian, and U.S. scholars will address the terms of engagement that emerge and diverge in the occupied/disputed/contested city of Jerusalem. In light of the recent human rights violations against Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem neighborhoods. They will discuss boundaries and border crossings between political activism and academic research as well as the prospects and pitfalls of scholarly "dialogue" projects that engage across Israeli and Palestinian lines in the city.
  • Henry Glassie, IU College Professor Emeritus of Folklore, will deliver the AFS plenary address, "War, Peace, and the Folklorist's Mission," at 8 p.m. on Oct. 12 in Alumni Hall of the Indiana Memorial Union.

A number of the meeting sessions, including all the plenary addresses, will be available for viewing live online and will be archived and available after the meeting. More information is available at the AFS members' blog at

Information about the conference and registration is available at the AFS web site at Additional information about the meeting and Themester is available at