Folklore and the Internet: Vernacular Expression in a Digital World

Blank, Trevor J., ed. Folklore and the Internet: Vernacular Expression in a Digital World. Logan, UT, Utah State University Press, 2009. p.272. $24.95pb or free .pdf at http://digitalcommons.usu.edu/usupress_pubs/

Monica Foote
Indiana University

If folklore is a form of artistically heightened communication, then it must necessarily arise in the course of most forms of human interaction. How these interactions are mediated changes over time, and the most recent seismic shift in how we mediate our communicative world has been the shift towards interaction in the space of distant co-presence that has been created by the advent of the Internet. On message boards, in social media, in email attachments and on Wikipedia, folklore is everywhere. Online communities develop their own modes of communication and methods of producing knowledge, along with verbal and visual art, that mark them as a community and heighten the discourse and practices with which they engage.
Scholarly attention has only lately been turning towards this type of folkloric production, but offline forms of folklore that also occur online are becoming seen as legitimate expressions of culture rather than as pale copies of real cultural work going on elsewhere. Folklore that is ‘born-digital’, as one could say, is also being increasingly recognized. Folklore and the Internet: Vernacular Expression in a Digital World does the important work of discussing how folklorists have dealt with technological shifts in the past, and how we can thus accommodate this shift, establishing the Internet as a field site like any other. Continue reading “Folklore and the Internet: Vernacular Expression in a Digital World”

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“Symbolic Ethnic Conflict”: Ethnicity and Trinbagonian Identity

“Symbolic Ethnic Conflict”: Ethnicity and Trinbagonian Identity

Tricia Ferdinand
Indiana University

Ethnicity is a key site of symbolic conflict in Trinidad and Tobago because of its role in the hegemonic practices promulgated by the nation’s former colonizers. However, there are a few cultural symbols including types of music and other artistic forms that can be seen as forms of mediation, in as much as they (consciously or otherwise) promote a nationalistic Trinbagonian identity. By briefly outlining the historical tenets that resulted in Trinidad and Tobago’s particular ethnic and social stratification and foregrounding the arenas in which ethnic cultural intermixing exists, this paper aims to garner an understanding of the role artistic creation can play in mediation. Continue reading ““Symbolic Ethnic Conflict”: Ethnicity and Trinbagonian Identity”

Wild Games: Hunting and Fishing Traditions in North America

Dennis Cutchins and Eric A. Eliason, Eds. Wild Games: Hunting and Fishing Traditions in North America. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2009. Pp. xxi + 230, black and white photographs, index. $48.00 cloth.

 Danielle Quales
Indiana University

This book is a collection of essays from a wide variety of academic contributors who deal with the cultural, psychological, and physical ways in which contemporary North American people interact with, shape, and are impacted by their natural surroundings.  As the authors of the individual articles reveal, interactions between man and nature occur for reasons of both sustenance and sport.  Editors Cutchins and Eliason have chosen to include articles on such diverse topics as the development of a new species of coyote-hunting dog in South Dakota and the many important rituals and traditions associated with seasonal hunting camps throughout North America.  Another interesting story included in this volume is about the implementation of outdoors skills programs for at-risk women that equip them with basic survival and camping skills, while at the same time raising their own self-esteem in all realms of their everyday life.  The great variety of interesting topics addressed by a multitude of voices in this volume keeps the articles engaging, while at the same time providing specific information that falls under the broader scope of hunting, the outdoors, and humans’ roles in these areas.   Continue reading “Wild Games: Hunting and Fishing Traditions in North America”