Beyond the Borderlands: Migration and Belonging in the United States and Mexico

Debra Lattanzi Shutika. Beyond the Borderlands: Migration and Belonging in the United States and Mexico. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011. $65.00, hardcover. $27.95, paperback. $27.95, e-book.

 Fredericka Schmadel
Indiana University

Folklorist Debra Lattanzi Shutika’s Beyond the Borderlands might appear atypical, but the material remains relevant to folklorists. Folklife and material culture researchers and those interested in a sense of place or identity, a sense of belonging, will find food for thought in chapter 3, which describes the translocal, village-to-village identity of the migrants who moved from a prosperous Guanajuato village to a more prosperous village in Pennsylvania. Shutika goes into detail about the memorials they set up, in their village of origin, to themselves and their families by preserving for decades their pre-migration houses, called casas vacias (vacant houses) which in reality are full of their life stories and dreams. Continue reading “Beyond the Borderlands: Migration and Belonging in the United States and Mexico”

“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”

McMeaning in the Maw of the Masses: Analyzing Fast Food Mash-Ups

McMeaning in the Maw of the Masses: Analyzing Fast Food Mash-Ups

Meagan Winkelman
Ohio State University

This paper analyzes the foodways of teenagers in the digital age, specifically the construction of “fast food mash-ups.” These practices, unlike typically documented ethnographic foodways, do not involve cookery; rather they involve the reappropriation of readily available fast food items. The results are massive hybrid sandwiches, like the “McGangBang,” a McDonald’s McChicken sandwich inside of a double cheeseburger. Using interviews with past and present members of the folk group that engages in these practices, collected online and in person, I will explore the meaning of these reappropriations to the people who make and consume them. This paper focuses on the social and psychological factors that influence fast food mash-ups, including the rite of passage ritual of consumption in excess, the desire to deviate from cultural and institutional norms, and the struggle to create meaning in the mass-produced food and drink that dominate youth food culture, as well as the function of fast food mash-ups as legends, which are being acted on ostensively whenever the sandwiches are ordered, constructed or consumed. Continue reading “McMeaning in the Maw of the Masses: Analyzing Fast Food Mash-Ups”

Negotiating a Shire: The Transformation of Local Values in the Society for Creative Anachronism

Negotiating a Shire: The Transformation of Local Values in the Society for Creative Anachronism

Suzanne Barber
Indiana University

Abstract:

The Society for Creative Anachronism is an international non-profit organization and is often depicted and discussed as a large homogeneous organization. Instead, in this work I have analyzed a smaller group, Loch an Fhraoich. Loch an Fhraoich, whose values and identity center around camaraderie and narrative and aesthetic coherence must attempt to balance these two often contradictory principles. This can be examined in light of narrative construction and maintenance. The Society for Creative Anachronism supports an official homogenous metanarrative.  At every level these narratives connect the individual and group to others, creating a network of relationships and shared narratives that help create a sense of unity and prevent a fracturing of voices and thus support the overriding metanarrative. In order to prevent this system from collapsing inward or fracturing apart, a certain amount of playful transgressive metalepsis and edgeplay must be allowed. The negotiation of this edgeplay is debated, and the style and amount tolerated is often a distinguishing mark between groups. Some key contestations that I have focused on where this debate occurs include the levels and types of anachronism allowed, the types of partying and practical jokes encouraged or discouraged, costuming, and the understanding of honor and chivalry. Continue reading “Negotiating a Shire: The Transformation of Local Values in the Society for Creative Anachronism”

Negotiations in Performance: The Storytelling Performance of Two Adolescent Afghan Narrators

Negotiations in Performance: The Storytelling Performances of Two Adolescent Afghan Narrators

Benjamin Gatling
The Ohio State University

Abstract:

This paper examines the storytelling performance of two adolescent male Afghan narrators.  In the summer of 1976, the two narrators, Jalaludin and Mohammed Asef, sat down with Margaret Mills and her tape recorder in Kabul, Afghanistan.  Their performance encompassed items across the spectrum of oral, Persian fictive genres, from conventional stories similar to those found across the Islamic world to obscene märchen.   During the performance, the narrators repeatedly parsed notions of identity, ethnic, linguistic, and otherwise, within in a joke cycle.  This paper illustrates how their ambiguous handling of issues of identity in the performance is reflective of the boys’ ambiguous relationship to the categories named in real life. Continue reading “Negotiations in Performance: The Storytelling Performance of Two Adolescent Afghan Narrators”

Within Their Own Seams: 19th Century Fashion and the Management of the Body in Women’s Literature and Letters

Within Their Own Seams: 19th Century Fashion and the Management of the Body in Women’s Literature and Letters

Kristiana Willsey
Indiana University

Abstract:

Elizabeth Gaskell’s 1855 novel, North and South, demonstrates the significant position women’s fashion played in the construction and maintenance of identity and self-expression.  Drawing on Gaskell’s novel as well as excerpts from other 19th century women’s letters, travelogues, and memoirs, we see how through imported fashions, English women participated in Empire making and confronted the problems of establishing English identity abroad. Women simultaneously occupied particular local identities and transcended them, articulating the tensions of maintaining both national and international identities through the feminine medium of fashion. At the same time, the tightly managed, corseted body represented a complex response to the advent of modernism. Continue reading “Within Their Own Seams: 19th Century Fashion and the Management of the Body in Women’s Literature and Letters”