- Reimund Kvideland (1935-2006)
Reimund Kvideland died suddenly and unexpectedly on June 6, 2006, as he was waiting for his bus to go to his office at the University of Bergen, where he was professor emeritus. He was born in Høyland in southwest Norway. Following studies and graduate work at the University of Oslo, he was appointed lecturer in folkloristics at the University of Bergen in 1966 and came to play a leading role in establishing his field as a new discipline at this young university, where he later became professor of folkloristics.
From his early student days and throughout his career, Kvideland's research profile grew out of the Nordic and international scholarly networks in which he was a part and to which he was a generous contributor. In his research, he focused his attention on child lore, folktales, and folksongs and singing, and he was concerned with problematics of oral repertoire analysis. In the area of child lore he paid special attention to the tradition of storytelling, a relatively unknown theme in comparison with traditions of play, and he emphasized the role that storytelling plays in children's acquisition of various forms of competence. He contributed to the area of folksongs and singing in many ways, including his efforts to show the merits of song as a domain for research within a broadly based study of cultural expression. He also was instrumental in making the handwritten collections of song texts a relevant object for research. Kvideland's last major contribution to his field was as co-editor of Olea Crøger's collection of song materials from Telemark in the 1840s and 1850s (Lilja bære blomster i enge, Oslo: Norsk folkeminnelag/Aschehoug Forlag & Co., 2004). This is perhaps one of the most important book publications since the appearance of Asbjørnsen's and Moe's collections (Norske Folkeeventyr, Oslo: Dahl, 1843–1844).
Besides teaching, documentation and archival knowledge and skills were the main professional concerns of Reimund Kvideland. Seeking new strategies for the folkloristic archives of his department in Bergen, he built goal-directed collections of tradition materials, including the documentation of contemporary traditions, and he devoted much effort toward making Norwegian folkloristic and ethnological studies visible through national as well as international bibliographies, such as the Internationale volkskundliche Bibliographie.
From 1991 to 1997, Kvideland served as director of the Nordic Institute of Folklore, based in Turku, Finland. To him, this was a privilege and a challenge, as his goal was to strengthen the Nordic profile of the institute, to make the institute reflect the rich theoretical and methodological scope of Nordic folkloristics, and to involve younger scholars more fully in the cooperative effort.
Kvideland's international profile made him a key figure in a number of world organizations. He served as president of Société Internationale d'Ethnologie et de Folklore (SIEF) from 1986 to 1990, as president of International Society for Folk Narrative Research (ISFNR) from 1989 to 1995, and as member of the board of Folklore Fellows. He served on editorial boards of several national and international periodicals, and he established and was editor of the periodical Tradisjon from 1971 to 1995.
Reimund Kvideland's knowledge and experience were an invaluable resource for students and colleagues—and a great source of inspiration for researchers in many countries worldwide. The scholarly study of popular folk culture has suffered a great loss with his death. He will be missed by many, but most of all by his wife Karin, his children Kristian, Katrin, and Elin, and his grandchildren whom he so much loved.