Visions and Traditions

Knowledge Production and Tradition Archives

Eds. Lauri Harvilahti, Audun Kjus, Clíona O’Carrol, Susanne Österlund-Pötzsch, Fredrik Skott, and Rita Treija


Suomalainen Tiedeakatemia
Folklore Fellows’ Communications 315
Porvoo 2018, 384 pp.
Available at Bookstore Tiedekirja

Winner of the 2018 Brenda McCallum Prize, for works of excellence and innovation that further the cause of preservation, organization, curation, or enhanced public access and use related to folklife archival collections.

Visions and Traditions contains texts that in various ways discuss the political, methodological and ethical aspects of how tradition archives have been – and are – involved in the production of knowledge.

The folklore studies of the 19th century, in the various forms they were performed, were concerned with not only imagining, but also sensing and experiencing the people. The early 20th century invention of the tradition archive, followed by the formations of folklore studies and ethnology as university disciplines, carried out fortifications, expansions and contestations as to who the people really were and how the people were to be seen and felt and experienced, and who had the authority to show us the people.

The disciplinary rumbles and departures from the late 1960s gave profound insights in how folkloristics and ethnology had contributed to the creation and strengthening of political identities, and left many folklorists and ethnologists skeptical about ever getting involved in identity politics again. The agenda of Herder, to assist the people in seeing and feeling and experiencing itself, for many became a shameful agenda. They sought refuge in purer forms of science, be it cultural history, linguistics or phenomenology. They would say: “To make the people visible is not our job. Let us leave them to it. But we will observe from safe distance.”

In the wake of the digital revolution and the new and powerful information technologies, people (not the people this time, but just people) are exercising great new abilities to make themselves seen and felt and experienced. Do people need tradition archives or folklorists in these endeavors? The editors of this volume suspect the tradition archives have qualities that are strongly in demand right now, and that folklorists are needed both as facilitators and for critical reflection.

We congratulate the authors and editors on a work the Committee agreed was forward-looking, cutting edge, and tightly focused on central matters of folklore and folklife archiving, history, theory, and practice. Committee members also saw the work as propelling folklore archives into the modern era of disciplinary shifts by claiming a firm foothold in academic conversations accessible to archivists, folklorists, and folklore-archivists. It also offered numerous interesting case study examples for contemplation. 
– American Folklore Society / Archives & Libraries Section Prize Committee


READ ON-LINE Opening pages

1. Tilling the Soil – Words of Introduction

READ ON-LINE Tradition archives as memory institutions in the past and in the future: Foreword
Clíona O’Carroll

The contested identity of folklore archives: Folkloristics and archival studies at a crossroads
Maryna Chernyavska

2. Bringing the Harvest Home – Insights from Past Collection Practice

Co-production of ethnographic knowledge in Estonia during the 1920s and 1930s
Marleen Metslaid

From personal letters to scientific knowledge: The creation of archived records in a tradition archive
Susanne Nylund Skog

Changing practices of folk song collection manifested in the Estonian Kodavere regilaul corpus
Liina Saarlo

Capturing the Christmas goat: The collection of folk customs in three questionnaires in the early twentieth century
Åmund Norum Resløkken

The position of folk belief in Estonian folkloristics during the Soviet era
Ave Goršič

Dispersion, disorder and diversification: Paradigm shift at the Institute for Dialect and Folklore Research in Uppsala
Agneta Lilja

High culture in the tradition archive: Swedish jazz history as a tradition archive topic
Alf Arvidsson

3. Fields of Cultural Identity – Archival and National Policies

Individual aims, public purposes: Creation of and access to tradition archives and vernacular publications in Finland and Ireland
Kelly Fitzgerald & Niina Hämäläinen

Visions, traditions and folklore collections: First steps of the Folklore Archives of the Finnish Literature Society
Lauri Harvilahti

Culture as political argument: Collection policies and the production of knowledge by Swiss Volkskunde scholars
Konrad J. Kuhn

4. Seeds for Future Practice – Recent and Future Challenges for the Tradition Archives

New perspectives on archival shortcomings: A note on self-perception, history and methodology within folkloristics, ethnology and cultural studies
Eldar Heide

‘Who told that story?’ Archiving supernatural encounter narratives and the voices of the documents
Laura Jiga Iliescu

Participatory practices and tradition archives
Sanita Reinsone

Legacy folklore collections and the use of thesauri
Catherine Ryan & Críostóir Mac Cárthaigh

History in the making: The ethics and politics of net publishing
Fredrik Skott

Taking it slow, standing our ground, and apprehending the nature of ‘talk’: Audio archives and the digital goldrush
Clíona O’Carroll

Principles for a future tradition archive: As foreseen by Norwegian ethnological research
Audun Kjus

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