The Violence of Traditions and the Traditions of Violence
The 10th Folklore Fellows’ Summer School will be hosted online by the School of Humanities at the University of Eastern Finland (UEF), in Joensuu, Finland, on 7–18 June 2021. The summer school focuses on a topical and essentially important field of research in folklore study: the violence of traditions and the traditions of violence.
Violence is not a new topic in folklore studies. Just think of ethnocentric folklore, racist and sexist jokes, or the brutality of many folktales. In addition to such classical topics, questions of violence concern and challenge folklore studies when it comes, among other things, to the verbal lore of street gangs, violent forms of rites of passage, the poetics and politics of hate speech, heroic narratives and vernacular commemorations of war and rebellion, victim stories of domestic and other forms of abuse, victim stories related to honour killings and other forms of violence in immigration contexts, traditionalized verbal patterns in sexual harassment and gendered violence, belief narrative legitimizations of female and male genital mutilations, theatrical/ritual blackface presentations, abusive sports involving animals, cultural appropriation of human and non-human life, culture and living conditions, and colonialism and neo-colonialism in general.
In recent years, the violence of culture and folklore, as well as the culture, folklore and heritage of violence, has become a widely studied and hotly debated issue. Why folklore can be a mechanism of social cohesion and identity affirmation, but also a mechanism of conflict and violence, remains a challenge for empirical and theoretical discussion. With reference to the current interest in studying and promoting intangible cultural heritage, we feel that it is of great importance to pay scholarly attention also to those forms of heritage that may be harmful or dangerous. In fact, the continuation of traditions that are not intentionally upheld or propagated is theoretically and methodologically more challenging for research than those traditions that are put on display as symbolically significant and empowering.
It is for these reasons that the violence of traditions and traditions of violence have been selected the topic of the Folklore Fellows’ Summer School 2021, hosted online by the School of Humanities at the University of Eastern Finland (UEF). The Summer School consists of keynotes and workshops which are reserved for participants only. However, those who are not participants but would like to watch the keynotes online will be offered a possibility to register in advance.
Keynote speakers and workshop leaders
Stein R. Mathisen
Monday 7 June through Friday 11 June
We are offering the keynotes as a webinar, which can be attended even if you are not participating in the FF Summer School. We will send the link by email in early June. Those interested in taking part in the webinar, please register here:
Executive Director, the Kalevala Society, Helsinki, Finland
Professor of Folklore Studies, University of Helsinki, Finland
#KalevalaToo. Heritage, Harassment and the Epic Heroine
Monday 7 June at UTC 11 am; 11 am in Reykjavik, 12 pm in Edinburgh, 1 pm in Göttingen and Oslo, 2 pm in Helsinki, 3 pm in Yerevan, 4:30 pm in New Delhi, 4 am in Berkeley
Alan Dundes Distinguished Professor of Folklore and Professor of Anthropology, Department of Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley, USA
When Violence Moves across Species
Monday 7 June at UTC 5 pm; 5 pm in Reykjavik, 6 pm in Edinburgh, 7 pm in Göttingen and Oslo, 8 pm in Helsinki, 9 pm in Yerevan, 10:30 pm in New Delhi, 10 am in Berkeley
Professor, Centre of German Studies, School of Language, Literature and Culture Studies. Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India
Wildly Ours 3.0: Tradition, Violence, Animals and Human
Tuesday 8 June at UTC 11 am; 11 am in Reykjavik, 12 pm in Edinburgh, 1 pm in Göttingen and Oslo, 2 pm in Helsinki, 3 pm in Yerevan, 4:30 pm in New Delhi, 4 am in Berkeley
Stein R. Mathisen
Professor, Department of Tourism and Northern Studies. UiT The Arctic University of Norway
SIEF lecturer, sponsored by SIEF (Société Internationale d´Ethnologie et de Folklore / International Society for Ethnology and Folklore)
Northern Colonialities and Violences from a Narrative Perspective
Tuesday 8 June at UTC 5 pm; 5 pm in Reykjavik, 6 pm in Edinburgh, 7 pm in Göttingen and Oslo, 8 pm in Helsinki, 9 pm in Yerevan, 10:30 pm in New Delhi, 10 am in Berkeley
Professor in Folkloristics, University of Iceland, Reykjavik
The Violence of the Mask: From Greek Tragedy to the Avatar
Wednesday 9 June at UTC 11 am; 11 am in Reykjavik, 12 pm in Edinburgh, 1 pm in Göttingen and Oslo, 2 pm in Helsinki, 3 pm in Yerevan, 4:30 pm in New Delhi, 4 am in Berkeley
Professor of European Ethnology, Institute for Cultural Anthropology / European Ethnology, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Germany
The Briefest of Wars and Its Long Aftermath: 1967 through the Prism of Personal Narrative
Wednesday 9 June at UTC 5 pm; 5 pm in Reykjavik, 6 pm in Edinburgh, 7 pm in Göttingen and Oslo, 8 pm in Helsinki, 9 pm in Yerevan, 10:30 pm in New Delhi, 10 am in Berkeley
Professor of Folkloristics/Ethnology, University of Iceland, Reykjavik
Wrestling with Tradition: Masculinity, Modernity, and Heritage in Icelandic Glíma Wrestling
Thursday 10 June at UTC 11 am; 11 am in Reykjavik, 12 pm in Edinburgh, 1 pm in Göttingen and Oslo, 2 pm in Helsinki, 3 pm in Yerevan, 4:30 pm in New Delhi, 4 am in Berkeley
Senior Lecturer, Head of Department, Celtic and Scottish Studies
Director, European Ethnological Research Centre
University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom
More Than a Game: Seasonal Handball in Scotland
Thursday 10 June at UTC 5 pm; 5 pm in Reykjavik, 6 pm in Edinburgh, 7 pm in Göttingen and Oslo, 8 pm in Helsinki, 9 pm in Yerevan, 10:30 pm in New Delhi, 10 am in Berkeley
Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Archeology and Ethnography, National Academy of Sciences, Yerevan, Armenia
Ethnic Violence and Rescue Stories: Case-Studies from Post-Communist Hate Speech and Armed Conflicts
Friday 11 June at UTC 11 am; 11 am in Reykjavik, 12 pm in Edinburgh, 1 pm in Göttingen and Oslo, 2 pm in Helsinki, 3 pm in Yerevan, 4:30 pm in New Delhi, 4 am in Berkeley
Monday 14 June through Thursday 17 June
Sadhana Naithani & Nona Shahnazarian – with Karina Lukin and Tuomas Martikainen
Colonial Traditions, Ethnic Conflicts, and Postcolonial Challenges to Traditionality
This workshop has two subject fields that invite the participants to discuss them separately as well as draw links between them.
The first one has to do with colonialism and its cultural intervention, the impression and impact of which have been popularly connected with European colonialism in other continents. Logically then, postcolonial thought is considered a preserve of the erstwhile colonized non-European nations. Other locations of colonialism have been lesser known to the international community, representing forms of colonialism and postcolonial thought very different from European colonial empires in other continents.
As postcolonial thought is yet to make its impact strongly felt in folkloristics, the workshop will be an occasion for fresh and futuristic thinking about coloniality, decolonization and postcolonialism. We will deal with some seminal texts of postcolonialism, and instances of colonial perspectives and collections will be brought to the table, contextualized and opened for postcolonial responses.
The other subject field has to do with ethnic conflicts, including gendered violence and ethnic cleansing. We will discuss methodological approaches to research into political and/or ethnic violence, ethnic cleansing, genocidal trauma, and difficult memories. One of our central interests is the manipulative usage of discourse on traditionality as justification for violent practices and as a means for narrativization and performance.
The workshop will address, among other things, the extent to which ethnic conflicts are colonial conflicts and/or post-colonial conflicts, and as such call for the analysis of postcolonial challenges to traditionality, traditional culture, and folklore.
Terry Gunnell & Neill Martin – with Eerika Koskinen-Koivisto and Blanka Henriksson
Violence Performed: The Dark Side of Traditions, Youtube and Everyday Life, from Masking Practices to Shootings and ISIS
This workshop will focus on the “performance” of violence and violence in performance in tradition and everyday life, considering performance in the sense that scholars like Richard Schechner (see for example, Performance Studies: An Introduction) see it, as something that involves not only words but considerations of movement, space, time, expectation, memory, emotion, preparation, aftermaths, frameworks, roles and more, and not least the key elements of a performer and an audience, and something that is “performed” in space and time, creating an transportive or transformative experience for all parties. A key question is “what’s going on” in the event in question, and why.
Violence has naturally formed part of many kinds of performative ritual from the beginning of time (especially initiatory ritual and group conflict), and, within the field of folkloristics commonly occurs within the liminal, chaotic events brought about by the use of masks in folk tradition. Nowadays, one sees the performance of violent acts playing an increasingly key role in the ways in which not only terrorist groups like Al Qaeda and ISIS work (with the help of social media and the web), but also those carrying out attacks in schools, mosques, hotels and malls (who are now filming themselves live). One, of course, also sees it in territorial urban disputes between gangs (from Peaky Blinders to the modern street gangs carrying knives in London).
In all cases, we are considering violence as a form of tradition, reference commonly being made back to acts in the past. This in turn leads to further questions on the role of the web in this field, and the relationship between performed violence on the screen (on line, on television and in the cinema) and violence in the streets, and even acts of self-harm. The performative approach to questions like these subject opens up a wide range of new angles from which to tackle an equally wide range of subjects. In all cases, however, one comes back to the key question of purpose, role and effect: what’s actually “going on” here?
Regina Bendix & Valdimar Hafstein – with Ulla Savolainen and Tiina Seppä
From Game to War: Gender, Memory, Domination
Framed by the respective plenaries of Valdimar T. Hafstein and Regina F. Bendix, this workshop offers opportunity for discussing violence as it is enacted and felt from the ludic to the deadly serious. How is the lure of might and power (and its violent potential) represented? how do spectators give in to its fascination? There are visual signposts for analysis, and there is a wealth of narration, from the personal and historical in its text and delivery all the way to the fictional that today often overwhelms us with visuals. How do such invocations of threatening power and experiences of “winning” or “losing” imprint themselves on individual and cultural memory?
Charles Briggs & Stein R. Mathisen – with Tuulikki Kurki and Pertti Anttonen
How Violence Moves across Text, Genre, and Enactment
In 1958, Américo Paredes’s With His Pistol in His Hand placed violence at the center of folkloristic research, but it took nearly half a century for the discipline as a whole to embrace his insights. Paredes traced how narratives of violence move across social borders, genres (such as between gossip, legends, and ballads), and media: the story of Gregorio Cortés was told in newspapers, telegraph messages, and courtroom documents as well. This workshop examines how the circulation and the material and bodily effects of accounts of violence are tied to complex interdiscursive connections across genre and media. Central issues include how folklore can both report but also give rise to forms of violence, including rhetoric of hate, ethnic cleansing, war, and genocide; how narratives of violence are sometimes suppressed, emerging through silences, gesture, or as inscribed on living or dead bodies; how nationalism canonizes some narratives of violence and suppresses others; the role of museums, heritage regimes, and truth and reconciliation commissions in officializing particular narratives of violence; and the interaction between legacy and new media and oral performance in representing acts of violence; and how violence and nonviolence practices are embedded into traditional discourse and narratives. A central concern is tracing how forms of violence extend beyond human minds and bodies to nonhumans and environments, reframing how we think about “planet Earth.” This workshop aims to rethink folkloristics and traditional rhetoric by taking violence not simply as a possible research focus but, following Paredes, in terms of how it has – usually silently – shaped the scope and underlying assumptions of the discipline and how it continues to configure its futures.