This article examines the theories of the black folk (those African Americans understood to constitute a folk group) as an economic, cultural, and literary category in the wartime writing of Richard Wright and Ralph Ellison. It rereads this work within the context of current scholarship that historicizes and contests the construction of the folk in folklore and literary theory and their applications. This article has a particular focus on the numerous and uncollected articles by Ellison and on the oral history narratives he recorded for the Federal Writers' Project. While both writers initially adopted a Marxist perspective on the folk, as defined by Wright's "Blueprint for Negro Writing" (1937), the work of Ellison and Wright diverged from this platform, though in radically different ways. Ellison's perspective developed to encompass a cultural nationalist position that was, in turn, deeply embedded in a pluralist and syncretic vision of American culture. In African American folk culture, Ellison limned a political agenda for activism. Wright, in contrast, aligned himself with the views of Gunnar Myrdal, which Ellison disputed. Recovering and delineating the ways in which Ellison's construction of the black folk ultimately diverges from that of Wright is a key element in the rereading of the cultural politics of wartime African American writing.
Ethnic identity in Yucatán can best be understood within the context of regional politics and the promulgation of a regional folk culture. While Yucatecan communities contain several named groups—mayero, catrin, blanco, ts'ul—and their share of ethnic enmities, members of these groups are also always "mestizos" or "Yucatecos," a regional identity that is fostered through poetry, dance, and humor. In exploring this phenomenon, I focus on the jarana, a popular folk dance that is thought to epitomize the unity of Maya and Hispanic culture and has become a familiar feature in political campaigns and tourist venues, as well as in the perennial village fiesta. While in theory the jarana is open to all residents, in practice it has become a spectacle in which well-to-do Yucatecans don the traditional folk costume and re-present themselves as cultivated mestizos, the first among equals.
This article examines how the concepts of "al-Andalus" and "Andalusian music" serve as touchstones for cultural identity in contemporary Syria and Morocco. I investigate how the performance of Andalusian music promotes ideologies of communal, national, and transnational identity in these diverse contexts. Attention to the trans-Mediterranean links among performers and consumers of Andalusian music reveals the often contradictory ways that expressive culture orients complex flows of ideologies and peoples across the boundaries of the contemporary Mediterranean.
Several people accused of being vampires are buried in southern Rhode Island. Their legends are well known, and as a result some of the places where these people are buried are sites of considerable activity. Drawing primarily on material culture left behind by visitors, we attempt to identify activities that are taking place at these gravesites. Our observations suggest that vandalism, partying, legend tripping, tourism, and perhaps even magic and sorcery occur at the gravesites, presumably long after dark. Such activities speak to a wide range of intentions, beliefs, and experiences on the part of visitors. Taking a material culture approach to the study of graveyard practices, this article documents activities that would otherwise be difficult to observe.