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2018: Folklore at Work: Cultural Work in the World

The Ohio State University
February 23-24, 2018
Keynote Address by
Dr. Merrill Kaplan
The Folklore Student Association at the Ohio State University, in collaboration with the Department of Folklore & Ethnomusicology at Indiana University, invites proposals for the 2018 11th Annual IU/OSU Student Conference in Folklore and Ethnomusicology, entitled Folklore at Work. In light of the events of 2017, which stand on far longer and more unsettling legacies, this year’s conference will breach the topic of the wider lives that cultural heritage and claims to tradition have in our world -- sometimes justice-seeking, but sometimes hate-aligned. We seek proposals forpapers, panels, workshops, posters, projects, and experimental sessions exploring the question of what it means to put cultural work to work in the world, with particular attention to public-sector, applied, community-based and advocacy folklore and ethnomusicology. We also seek contributions of experimental scholarship that engages topics of social justice and/or the “work” of cultural work. We are asking: why does our work matter, for the issues of the world?

Folklorists have long debated the place "applied" folklore studies should hold in relation to "academic" folklore scholarship. And there has been a fear that in focusing on our scholarship's potential for political and social engagement, we risk a loss of rigor and the insight that can come from reflection at a distance from events. However, this conference begins with the premise that folklore, and our study of it, is always already embedded in the social and political lives of researchers and collaborator-communities. Thus, while we welcome papers on new avenues and contexts in which folklore might be utilized, we also welcome reflexive papers exploring the ways in which folklore, and folkloristics, is itself always "at work" upon the lives of informants and researchers alike.
Proposals may potentially address the following questions:
How cultural work “works” for social change; pasts, presents and futures of applied, public sector, community-based, activist and advocacy folklore and ethnomusicology; occasions for cultural work to disrupt, reframe and heal traditions of hate; critical heritage studies and its relationships to and/or challenges to public/applied folklore and ethnomusicology studies; occupational folklife and labor ethnomusicology; work and disability across vernacular cultural work fields; the labor of cultural workers, inside and outside of the academe; traditional and alternative career paths for cultural workers; the work of fieldwork -- reflections on relational work, mental health, precarity, gender, embodiment and the field experience; any other topic relevant to the theme of the social and public lives of cultural work and the labor and forms of co-producing it.

We are eager to conceive of the IU/OSU Folklore & Ethnomusicology Conference as a space that first and foremost supports the needs of students, wherever they may be in their careers. Therefore, we are excited to welcome proposals for a variety of formats and sessions. Suggested formats include:

• Pre-organized roundtables or panels
• 20-minute paper presentations
• Workshop/skill-share sessions
• “Lightning round” 10-minute project share sessions
• Pop-up exhibits, cultural tours or media sessions + discussion
• Anything else awesome & timely we haven’t thought of yet

All presentation format proposals should submit a 250-word abstract. Pre-arranged or collective sessions should additionally include a session title, 250-word session abstract, and list contacts for all members of the panel/roundtable, if relevant. Additionally, to better foster student solidarity across the spaces, institutions and disciplines of cultural work, we especially welcome formats that allow us to get to know each other, exchange experiences, share or try out new skills, and forge collective futures for activist cultural work.
Although the conference serves to build solidarity between students and departments involved in folklore and ethnomusicology research, we also heartily welcome contributions from graduate students and community members involved in cultural work across the disciplines, and from any institution/community. We’re especially excited to welcome papers, projects and experimental sessions engaging the work of interdisciplinarity or the disciplinarity of cultural work. And, in the spirit of accessibility, we will make every effort to house student participants during your stay. 
All submissions will be due via GoogleForms by December 30th, 2017; and all participants will be notified of acceptance status by January 15th, 2018. Don’t hesitate to contact this year’s conference organizing committee at osu.studentfolk@gmail.com. We look forward to seeing you in Columbus!