Agee, James, 1909-1955. Let us now praise famous men.
Evans, Walker, 1903-1975.
Ethnology -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
United States -- Civilization -- 1918-1945.
Material culture -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
As numerous scholars have chronicled, the decade of the 1930s in America witnessed an explosion of popular interest in the presumptions and protocols of cultural ethnography. The Depression years were a time when such academic-sociological studies as Constance Rourke's American Humor, Zora Neal Hurston's Mules and Men, Ruth Benedict's Patterns of Culture, and Howard Odum's various studies of rural Appalachia became virtual bestsellers in their own right—each animated by what might be called an indexical-excavatory enthusiasm for unearthing, itemizing, and exhibiting the vestiges (both material and human) of America's putatively "vanishing" past. This article sets out to assess the cultural and ideological work this wide-ranging impulse performed, probing the ways that mainstream or popular ethnography in the 1930s (despite its often explicit interest in critiquing or challenging commercial modernity) came to underwrite a particular and highly overdetermined narrative of corporate-capitalist "progress." To accomplish this, I examine three discrete yet exemplary ethnographic texts: Dorothea Lange's An American Exodus, John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath, and James Agee and Walker Evans's Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. Documenting places and people feared to be most immediately threatened by industrial-commercial development, I argue that these writers ultimately depicted America's socioeconomic fringes not as the repository of a redemptive "folk" culture, but as the site and source of commercial capitalism's own heroic and authentic "roots." Behind their interest in excavating and documenting the artifacts of a bygone age was a more formative desire to invent a model of the vernacular past that could somehow imbue capitalism's rationalized and articulated operations with a tangible sense of historicity, a palpable and authenticating texture of "pastness."
Political refugees -- Legal status, laws, etc. -- United States -- Language.
Political refugees -- Legal status, laws, etc. -- Social aspects -- United States.
Discourse analysis, Narrative.
Language and culture.
United States. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services.
The trauma narratives told by refugees in their appeal for asylum status in the United States are culturally constructed, based not only on local cultural discourses for talking about grief, tragedy, struggle, and displacement, but also on the legal and bureaucratic cultures of the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (B.C.I.S.). On the basis of interviews with asylum seekers and with immigration lawyers and B.C.I.S. officials, we discuss the cultural obstacles of the asylum application process.
For many scholars, "folk costume" is an outmoded term that refers to a narrow range of ethnic, sectarian, and occupational clothing traditions. At the same time, folklorists tend to overlook some kinds of clothing choices because they seem merely to reflect "everyday dress." In this article, the authors examine how and why contra dancers choose what they wear to dance events as an example of how semiotic approaches introduced by Bogatyrev and others can reveal underlying clothing traditions—dress codes—applied to a subset of so-called everyday dress. Two instances of clothing behavior in particular, namely, the use of tee-shirts by dancers of both sexes and the growing use of skirts by male dancers, serve to "unpack" the complex communicative resources available to participants and suggest that folkloric research in this relatively unexplored area may produce rich results.
Village of Arts and Humanities (Philadelphia, Pa.)
Art and society -- Pennsylvania -- Philadelphia.
Arts and globalization.
This note explores the possibilities of a critical regionalist approach to the study offolk communities through an examination of a community arts organization that imagines and produces an enriched inner-city region through practices that critically examine received dominant values and celebrate available community resources. Following Appadurai, the organization's attempt to "control the means of their own self-reproduction" is explored through the attention to time, revision of space, creation of rituals, and focus on perception.