In the Fall of 2009, Folklore Forum issued a call for papers on cultural manifestations of violence and socio-cultural trauma. It was a weighty topic, but one selected after review of current trends in scholarship in the fields of Folklore and Ethnomusicology. We structured the call for papers to capture the full scope of research related to the topic. To our delight, the articles in this issue also show a broad range of ways that scholars are examining violence and socio-cultural trauma.
Vannessa Pelaez-Barrios examines the performance of narratives about the Kharisiri, a figure from Andean legend that feeds on victims by extracting their blood and fat in “Mythic Narrative Performances: The Myth of the Kharisiri.” These legends are full of violence themselves, and often seem to flourish in times of violence or in response to trauma. Pelaez-Barrios analyzes the performative and linguistic techniques employed by storytellers to argue that such ritualistic techniques function as “security devices” to mediate the danger inherent in the narratives.
In “Beneath the Outrage: 2009 Task Force Recommendations Undermine Online Breast Cancer Community,” Christal Seahorn examines trauma on two separate levels. First she shows how the support of online communities has served to ameliorate the trauma of breast cancer for patients and survivors. Second she analyzes the trauma caused by changes in the recommendations for breast cancer screenings on those online communities. Seahorn argues that the folk discourse on the Komen forums helps to show how breast cancer patients formed their epistemological frameworks and demonstrates the power of such communities.
Sayo Yamagata looks at yet another aspect of violence and trauma in “Representing Valerie Solanas: Productions of Gender and Sexuality in the Factory.” She examines the artistic responses to Valerie Solanas’ attempted assassination of Andy Warhol as a means of understanding gender constructions created by Warhol’s acolytes. Yamagata compares the violence inherent in this response with Solanas’s own writings on gender.
These three articles discuss very different forms of violence and socio-cultural trauma. Yet they approach them from very different angles. We hope that Folklore Forum’s online publication format will facilitate further discussion about these articles and the diverse issues they raise.
Editor, Folklore Forum