Conditions of precarity are those in which the overwhelming needs of the present override the ability of a person, community, or state to materially anticipate or account for the future. Precarity can be fiscal, social, or political, and often more than one of these at a time. Folklorists have very rarely taken precarity per se as a topic of interest, but folklore both as an academic discipline and as a form of popular expression has been driven since its origins to mitigate precarity. This article reflects on three important moments in the history of folklore: the work of the Grimms, the Finnish nationalist movement, and the Irish Folklore Commission, and addresses how each of them was motivated by the desire to manage and mitigate precarity among vulnerable communities. Then, it reviews the impact of the Hampton Folklore Society and outlines how its engagements with the American Folklore Society foreshadow contemporary tensions in folklore.


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pp. 7-28
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