“Documenting Culture in the 21st Century:” Symposium at the American Folklife Center

Documentary equipment past and present. Photo by Stephen Winick, 2015.

Documentary equipment past and present. Photo by Stephen Winick, 2015.

As part of our work at the McElroy House: Organization for Culture Resources, and in connection with the work we do through the Boiled Down Juice, founder Meredith Martin-Moats has been invited to speak at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress as part of a symposium entitled, “Documenting Culture in the 21st Century.”  Specifically, she was asked to come speak on folklore and social justice work and how we strive to weave together folklore documentation and community action.

Here’s an overview of the event, as written by the Library of Congress:

Documenting and archiving traditional culture today involves working with technologies, methodologies, ethical challenges, and creative possibilities that were undreamed of when Alan Lomax and other early collectors went into the field. Those earlier generations used recording equipment and theoretical approaches that were state-of-the-art at the time, but a lot has changed. This symposium presents a sampler of innovative contemporary approaches to fieldwork. Some of them are directly related to more traditional methods of ethnographic documentation, archiving, and presentation, while others are a little further afield.

Speakers will consider how evolving approaches to ethics, social justice, ownership rights, and privacy are affecting the acquisition, stewardship, and sharing of materials at repositories like the Library of Congress. They will also explore how such approaches are creating other, newer opportunities for archiving and sharing cultural resources.

Read more about the event and see the full schedule here. 

The growth of this publication and the McElroy House has been anything but linear. To some extent we’ve embraced the messiness of  trying to build something out of experimentation. It’s an honor to be asked to talk about such topics and share a few stories about our process of trial and error. To this end, Meredith will talk about relationship-based community organizing, why we think reciprocity is fundamental to any sincere work, and our desire to support and build intergenerational and anti-racist spaces that strive to tackle oppressive power structures and support the growth of the commons as a place for creative solution building across divides. Both the McElroy House and the Boiled Down Juice are both places (physical or on the web) and ideas. In this sense, we’re trying to do our part in opening up spaces for translating (and creating new) theory into practice.  Come listen to us ramble on about such things. 

Better yet, come for the other awesome speakers. Check them all out here.  We’ll do some follow up posts about all the great stuff we learn from the fellow presenters. Hope to see you there!