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The Center for Folklore and Ethnography

From 1999 until 2008, the Center for Folklore and Ethnography had a three-fold mission to:
 ·  foster an exchange of ideas among scholars, students and the general public concerning the perspectives that folklore and ethnography provide on the making of social life in the past and present. Emphasizing such topics as the formation of vernacular culture, symbolic communication and exchange, and the making of the self, the Center engages the aesthetics, ethics, and politics of lived cultures in the region.
 ·  initiate and coordinate practical programs on both the graduate and undergraduate levels, both designing and implementing ethnographic fieldwork. These programs draw on community and cultural resources already in existence, by meeting with and entering into formal research partnerships or co-sponsorship of exhibitions, concerts, colloquia, publications and publicity with cognate organizations in the Delaware Valley and through the mid-Atlantic region.
 ·  initiate conferences and seminars for the University community, the greater Delaware valley, and the mid-Atlantic region. It may also host international symposia on larger themes of tradition, ethnicity, heritage, and the cultural consequences of global developments.

The Center's research and teaching program met the needs of faculty and students across disciplines in the School of Arts and Sciences, including folklore, English, anthropology, environmental studies, comparative literature, and religious studies, as well as the schools of Medicine, Nursing, and Planning and Design.
Photographers Lyntha Scott Eiler (center) and Martha Cooper (lower right) evaluate the work of student participants in an Ethnographic Photography workshop held in 2003.

The Center for Folklore and Ethnography grounded graduate education in the living, ethnically diverse culture of the region. Coordinating regional projects in folklore fieldwork for both graduate and undergraduate students. Field materials, housed in the Folklore Archive, contribute to the goal of preservation of regional cultural resources.

Leah Lowthorpe, folklore graduate student, with Washington Bai and Robert Flahn, elders from West Philadelphia's Agape African Senior Citizen Center, during a 2006 visit to the University Museum, where the seniors spoke to students and the collection curator about artifacts collected from Liberia during the 19th century. The visit was arranged as part of a service learning course, "Exploring Memory and Tradition in Philadelphia Communities." Photo by Rebecca Sherman '06.

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