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Folklore as Social Justice

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Rivka Powell

on 22 October 2014

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Transcript of Folklore as Social Justice

"It involves values, traditions, ways of thinking & behaving. It’s about art. It’s about people and the way people learn. It helps us learn who we are and how to make meaning in the world around us."
Martha C. Sims and Martine Stephens
"songs and legends. It’s also quilts, scout badges, high school marching band initiations, jokes, chain letters, nicknames, holiday food… and many other things you might or might not expect. Folklore exists in cities, suburbs, and rural villages, in families, work groups and dormitories. Folklore is present in many kinds of informal communication, whether verbal (oral, written texts), customary (behaviors, rituals) or material (physical objects)."
Folklore is many things...
Ecological Systems
Your Folklore
Modes of Folklore
Micro Folklore
Isolated subjects

Macro Folklore
Kinesiological (Physical Interactions)
(Physical Presentation)
Complex Manifestations
By Savannah Powell
Folklore as Social Justice
Martha C. Sims and Martine Stephens. Living Folklore: An Introduction to the Study of People and their Traditions. Pp. 1-2. Logan: Utah State University Press, 2005.
Take a few moments for personal reflection and assessment:

Think of folklore you were brought up within your family and community, both positive and negative.

How has this folklore impacted your development of identity?

In what ways does this folklore continue to contribute to your current perspective, interactions, and world view?
Micro Meso Exo Macro
Choose one piece of folklore which is either negative or empowering.
What ecological systems are at play?
Is it originating from an internal or external source?
Brainstorm ways to engage with this folklore using the Communication for Social Change model.
If you chose negative folklore, practice confronting the divergent perspectives to create positive change.
Break into Small Groups of 2-3
Personal Commitment
Take a few moments to write down ways in which you will engage with the folklore in your life to impact social justice in your community.
Be in your voice and
own your stories!
Fairy Tales
Folk Tales
Creation Stories
Tall Tales
Trickster Tales
Urban Legends
The Chronosystem
Transitions and shifts in an individual's lifespan, including socio-historical contexts. This has intergenerational impact. I.e. divorce, immigration, social movements, wars, etc.
Communication for Social Change
Individuals and communities most affected must own the process of communication.
The communication is empowering, horizontal (versus top-down), gives a voice to previously unheard members of the community, and is biased towards local content and ownership.
Communities are agents of their own change.
Emphasis shifts from persuasion and transmission from outside technical experts to dialogue, debate, and negotiation on issues that resonate with members of the community.
Emphasis on outcomes goes beyond individual behavior to social norms, policies, culture, and the supporting environment.
Communication for Social Chance, Denise Gray-Felder
Political philosopher Iris Marion Young designates “differences in culture, social perspective, or particularist commitment as resources to draw on for reaching understanding in democratic discussion rather than as divisions that must be overcome.”
Storytelling is a strategy “for sustaining a sense of agency in face of disempowering circumstances.” (Jackson)
Folklore should be regarded “not merely as folksy, domestic entertainment but as a domain in which individuals in a
variety of social roles articulate a commentary upon power relations in society and indeed create knowledge about society.” (Furniss and Gunnar)
Folktales for Social Change, Jonas Agerbæk Jeppesen
"Storytelling is a universal human experience through which we learn, maintain culture and community, and bridge collective realities with individual experiences. For Bell, stories are also analytic tools with which we can unpack and dismantle racism. She subtly differentiates storytelling’s capacity to reinscribe social forms and hegemonic ways of thinking and to enable critical consciousness and alternative visions for human relations and societal structures."
Storytelling for Social Justice by Lee Anne Bell
Full transcript