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Gathering/Place: Folklore, Aesthetic Ecologies,
and the Public Domain

Guest Book

In the spirit of past Penn Folklore conferences, we have established a Guest Book for on-line communication. Those unable to attend the conference and anyone else interested are invited to submit posts that respond to or otherwise engage the participants' individual papers, the session abstracts, the general themes of the conference, or other guest book posts. Send all responses to Rosina Miller at, and we'll post them below. Check back periodically with the Guest Book to see what has been added.

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From: Sally Van de Water
Date: Tue, 30 Mar 2004 10:28:30

Mary and everyone participating in the Penn 40th Anniversary Gathering/Place:

It looks like a fantastic couple of days, filled with meaty discussion and lively people. Have a great, fun, interesting conference. Wish I could be there!!


Sally Van de Water
(still thawing in Boston)

Subject: response to Amy Shuman:Aesthetic Ecologies
From: Felicia R. McMahon
Date: Wed, 31 Mar 2004 08:53:04

Amy Shuman's timely discussion of dispossessed people's "sentimentalizing, romanticizing and naturalizing in relocation" reflects a relationship to what Greg Gow terms "cultural formation" rather than "cultural translation" in his work with the relocated Oromo in Australia.Gow documents ways in which ritual in a new context performance suggests "a series of alignments and lived conjunctions that do not represent a hidden real but *are* the real" (Gow 2002: 3). My own research over a period of three years with the DiDinga "lost boys" of southern Sudan to identify and to document the forces acting on emergent traditions indicates that although 'home' does not have to physically exist, the desire to contruct 'home' even away from 'home' is pervasive (Gow 5). Over a period of time, my analysis of videotaped recontextualized danced songs performed publically for American audiences revealed that the new context provided a space for the young men to 'play' with tradition so they could not only communicate identity but engage in transgressive symbolic behavior that would not have been allowed in "DiDingaland." Further, like Gow and Shuman, my fieldwork turns back on itself because it is being conducted in my own backyard, so in a sense, "the existential reality was that I could never 'go home,' because 'home' became where I did my fieldwork" (Gow 22). This has important implications for folklorists working with dispossessed people within our own 'homeland.'-Felicia (Faye) McMahon, The Maxwell School at Syracuse University

April 2, 2004

Dear PENN Folklore and Folklife Alums,
Dear Professors, Colleagues, and Folklore Fellows

As PENN Folklore and Folklife celebrates its 40th Anniversary, on the behave of the Institute of Ethnic literature of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, we would like to take this opportunity to extend our sincere appreciations and hearty congratulations to you all!

In recognition of this gorgeous event you propose the theme “Gathering/Place: Folklore, Aesthetic Ecologies, and the Public Domain” for probing into the scholarship and practice that also inspire us with a broad prospect of international folkloristics.

The Institute of Ethnic Literature(IEL) has, for 22 years since its first inception, contributed much to the study of ethnic cultures, folklore, and verbal arts in China through studying and researching the basics of social sciences, especially in areas of literature, folklore, anthropology, ethnology, history, culture, religion, and ideology. It has facilitated international and national academic interaction and cooperation, trained researchers, scholars, and M.A. & Ph. D. students, published results of researches, filed studies, and other scholarly works, and made necessary data and materials available for all social scientists and humanists.

Having faced the new era of globalization, IEL realizes that it is necessary to map out the future of our research work towards new perspectives in international co-operations. Since many disciplines have been involved in ethnic literature studies, such as Tibetan Studies, Mongolian Studies, Turkic Studies, Manchu Studies, Nakhi Studies, Yi Studies, Miao (Hmong) Studies, and so on--- they in some sense become internationalized disciplines. So far the institute has established academic linkages to institutions and scholars in many countries throughout the world. In this cross-disciplinary context, the expertise of ethnic literature is an indispensable asset that can address issues of knowledge production, cultural diversity, and folk intellectual property in international cooperation and exchanges.

We have enjoyed and appreciated your contribution to the international scholarship and practice in the past, and benefited a lot from PENN distinguished scholars, and their theories and thoughts have all enriched our life more than you will ever know. Please convey our wholehearted respects to Professor Roger D. Abrahams, Dan Ben-Amos, Mary Hufford, Tristram Coffin, Brian Sutton-Smith, Steve Zeitlin, Don Yoder, Regina Bendix, and Dr. Jay Dautcher, as well as our AFS colleagues, Professor Peggy Bulger and Dr. Dorothy Noyes.

We believe the Center of Folklore and Folklife will have a very central stake in promotion of the discipline. We are confident that the international scholarship in folkloristics and oral traditions has a promising future, one impetus is --its leading institution-- PENN Folklore and Folklife, has been keen on broadening our vision to other cultures, and sharpening our sense to exploring into the roots of expressive culture of human beings.

We look forward to working closely together with all of you in preserving and safeguarding our common heritage. We wish the 40th Anniversary Conference and Reunion a wonderful success! We wish you all a great prosperity in the outstanding community.

With best regards!

Sincerely Yours

Chao, Gejin & Bamo, Qubumo


Chao Gejin Ph. D. Professor

Institute of Ethnic Literature, Director
Council Committee, China Folklore Society (CFS), Acting Member

Bamo, Qubumo Ph. D. Professor
Oral Traditions Research Center, Director
China Folklore Society (CFS), Deputy General-Secretary

Chinese Academy of Social Sciences(CASS)
FL-1113, 5 Jiannei Dajie, Beijing 100732, CHINA
Tel.: +86-10-8519-5623(Inst.)
Fax.: +86-10-6513-4585(Inst.)
Email: /


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