Events Calendar

Folklore and Anthropology in Conversation
Thursday 26 October 2017, 10:00am - 05:00pm
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Third Folklore Society / Royal Anthropological Institute Joint Seminar

The Third Joint Seminar of the Society and the RAI will be held on Thursday 26 October, 2017 from 10am to 5pm at the Royal Anthropological Institute,  50 Fitzroy Street, London W1T 5BT.  The general theme will be 'Folklore and Anthropology in Conversation', continuing on from last year's presentations.

These days are organised jointly by the RAI and the Folklore Society, and cover any aspect of mutual synergy between our two fields, expressed historically, theoretically or practically in terms of research results.

10:00 - 10:15 – Welcome and Introduction to the Day.

Invited Lecture:
10:15 - 11:40 - Giovanni Kezich - The “Carnival King of Europe” between Folklore and Anthropology.
11:40 - 12:00 - Tea and Coffee.

Session 1
12:00 - 12:30 - Paul Cowdell - Recognisably Folklore and Anthropology Without Being Either: Violet Alford and the Shared Afterlives of (at least) Two Disciplines'.

Session 2
12:30 – 1:00 - Marielle Risse – ‘I Came to You for Good’:  An Ethnographic Discussion of Folk Tales from Southern Oman.

Lunch
1:00 – 2:00

Session 3
2:00 - 2:30 – Matthew Ryan-East – Standards, Statistics, and Stories:  Adopting a Holistic Approach to the Diverse Late Nineteenth-Century Studies of Joseph Jacobs.

Session 4
2:30 – 3.00 - Massimiliano Carocci - Folklore and Anthropology: a Look from the Anthropological Index Online.
3:00 - 3:20 - Tea and Coffee.

Session 5
3:20 - 3:50 – Leslie Sass – Emerging from the Dark: The Other Nativity of Christ.  

Session 6
3:50 - 4:20 - Florentina Badalanova Geller, Joan Sheffler - Carnival and Mask Rituals through the Prism of the ‘Folk Bible’.
4:20 - 4:40 - Tea and Coffee.

General Discussion on Themes of the Day and Links between Anthropology and Folklore
4:40 - 5:15

Drinks Reception  
5:15 – 6:00

ABSTRACTS

Massimiliano Carocci
Folklore and Anthropology: a look from the Anthropological Index Online.

AIO is the online bibliographic service published by the RAI. The presentation looks at data indexed in it over 60 years to illustrate the various ways in which folklore and anthropology have converged over time. Three case studies will illustrate what can be elicited from an analysis of AIO data, and the potentials it has to build snapshots of anthropological history that can inform further research in previously neglected areas.

Paul Cowdell
Recognisably Folklore and Anthropology Without Being Either: Violet Alford and the Shared Afterlives of (at least) Two Disciplines'.

Violet Alford is a slightly peculiar, rather anachronistic figure. She was a vigorous fieldworker, tolerant of adaptive changes within tradition, was hostile to its invention or appropriation for propaganda/performance purposes, and was active in teaching dance revivalists. This was all based on a reading of Margaret Murray and JG Frazer.   The paper explores what she has to say to researchers today.

Florentina Badalanova Geller, Joan Sheffler
Carnival and Mask Rituals through the Prism of the ’Folk Bible’.

This paper will present data collected during field research conducted in Bulgaria in the period between 1987-1991, on the eve of the collapse of the Soviet regime. In the period after WWII, mask rituals were suppressed by both Ecclesiastical authorities and the Communist establishment. At the same time, local ethno-history contextualizes their etiology within vernacular narratives about the life of Jesus and his disciples, while Carnival customs are regarded as a hallmark of Bulgarian national identity.

Giovanni Kezich
Carnival King of Europe between Folklore and Anthropology.

A thorough going survey of European winter masquerades, carried out from 2007 to 2017 in about one hundred different locations in 13 countries, under the premises of a research project co-funded by the EU and the title “Carnival King of Europe” (see the site www.carnivalkingofeurope.it), seems to have opened some new important perspectives in both comparative folklore and social anthropology. Specific targets of the survey have been the small scale village masquerades that take place in rural Europe in a variety of winter occasions, from Halloween to early March and beyond, being based on the yearly return of mysterious ritual figures, always clad in rich and elaborate attires. On such grounds, it was easy to ascertain that throughout Europe, from the Balkans to Iberia and from Sicily to England, the language of such ritual masquerades is one and the same, directly relating to the same hidden ancient liturgy of agrarian magic. This finding has deep implications as towards a reconsideration of European culture history in unitary terms, from its all too evident common roots in protohistory to the emergence in the late medieval context of the idea of “Carnival” as an encompassing new ideology of popular culture. Also, the current revival of such rituals, which has swept over the whole continent from the 1980’s, can be seen as a specific testimony to the unitary character of the underlying culture. “Carnival King of Europe” has thus revisited some of the classic themes of Sir James G. Frazer, first and foremost of which is the obligatory nature of a sacrificial ritual which annually ties up in a single whole the world of men to the world of nature: a reappraisal of comparative ethnography largely carried out with the contemporary means of visual anthropology. The presentation will expound upon the methods, contents, results and further research perspectives of “Carnival King of Europe”, from its beginnings in 2007 to the present day.

Marielle Risse
‘I Came to You for Good’:  An Ethnographic Discussion of Folk Tales from Southern Oman.

This presentation discusses several folk tales from southern Oman which were recorded by Dr. Tom Johnstone in the 1970s, then translated and published by Dr. Aaron Rubin in 2014. The folk tales were originally spoken in the unwritten language of Gibali/ Jibbali/ Śḥeret/ Shari. I will explain how these folk tales, recorded at the beginning of modernization in the Dhofar region, reflect worldviews that I see daily in my anthropological work. I am specifically interested in how the folk tales reflect still current understandings of the nature of the relationship between married couples and the existence of djinn.

Matthew Ryan-East
Standards, Statistics, and Stories:  Adopting a Holistic Approach to the Diverse Late Nineteenth-Century Studies of Joseph Jacobs.

As a folklorist, anthropologist and Jewish historian, from 1877 to the end of the nineteenth century, Joseph Jacobs dedicated himself to a diversity of scholarly pursuits in the UK.  Instrumental to each field’s advancement during this fertile period for academic studies, he developed and transmitted new ways of thinking about folklore, race and culture through an impressive array of essays and articles, and a dedicated involvement in different societies’ exhibitions and meetings. He has also been credited with compiling the most complete and representative corpus of English fairy tales from that period. How then, given his apparent commitment to a spectrum of academic arenas, should Joseph Jacobs, the scholar, primarily be studied in the 21st century?

This paper argues that although a handful of scholars have engaged in praiseworthy research related to Jacobs’ prodigious output in each distinct field from the mid-20th century onwards, this disjointed approach has yet to give Jacobs the critical attention he deserves.  It is suggested that his  contributions to folklore, anthropology and Jewish history should be read as an interdisciplinary dialogue, crossing academic borders to promote and transmit his own philosophy of social progress and cohesion.  Jacobs often sought to challenge the popular impressions and dominant thinking of his day; by analysing the causal relationship between his academic endeavours, this talk will illuminate Jacob’s importance for studies of late Victorian scholarship.

Leslie Sasse
The Other Nativity of Christ: Emerging from the Dark.

The mythology of Christianity, and the folk-customs and beliefs of the Christian era preserve motifs that are widely spread across cultures, both inside and outside of Christian Europe. As such, they reflect concepts that do not appear to have originated in Christianity, but are likely to pre-date it. While certain elements are common to all major branches of Christianity, such as the death and rising attributes of Christ, there are some traditions that are particular to specific regions. Due to the split between the eastern and western Churches, some of these are relatively little known in western Europe.  In Greek Orthodox Christianity there is a widespread, extra-liturgical tradition that places the birth of Christ not in a stable, but specifically in a cave. This talk will explore this motif in the context of south-eastern European mythology and trace further parallels between the Christian narrative of Christ’s nativity and pre-Christian mythological motifs of the region.

Sources of information will be drawn from Greek mythology, folklore and archaeology, including elements dating to the pre-Greek Minoan period. In doing so, it will be suggested that elements of the nativity of Christ, including the Greek Orthodox tradition of his birth in a cave, may be traced to the Bronze Age. I will further argue that this case serves as an example of how folklore and mythology of the Christian era can and do preserve ancient motifs and concepts of pre-Christian cultures.

 

This event is free, but tickets must be booked. To book tickets please go to https://folkloreandanthropology.eventbrite.co.uk

Location : Royal Anthropological Institute
50 Fitzroy Street
London
W1T 5BT
United Kingdom
http://www.therai.org.uk

Location 3