The Folklore Fellows has two governing bodies. The local Executive Committee in Finland consists of four folklorist members of the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters in Helsinki. It can convene at short notice to make necessary decisions on running matters. The internationality of Folklore Fellows is guaranteed by its Advisory Committee, which has a maximum of ten members from outside Finland and in which the Executive Committee is incorporated. Their task is to find ways to increase scholarly contacts between folklorists, to recruit members for the FF, to support publication activities within and outside the FF, and to instigate modern researcher training on an international basis. Presently the Advisory Committee has members from Europe, Asia, North and South America.
Since travel money is scarce, it would be optimistic to expect that such an international body as the FFAC could ever meet with all fourteen members present. Full attendance is created by following a personal meeting by a meeting per capsulam,where all members can express their views in writing (or by fax or telephone) on the basis of an agenda, prepared in advance and discussed first at a personal meeting. Such was the method at last year’s FFAC meeting, which began in Innsbruck on July 11th with a personal meeting held in conjunction of the 10th Congress of the ISFNR and which was concluded on December 15th as the minutes of the subsequent per capsulammeeting were accepted.
Among the matters discussed by the FFAC, the recruitment of members into the three categories of honorary, full and associate members came to the fore. Under the amendment to the rules on January 7, 1992, the Folklore Fellows can have (1) an unlimited number of honorary members, (2) a maximum of one hundred full members, of which one quarter must be from outside Europe and North America and (3) an unlimited number of associate members.
According to § 4 of the rules “Honorary members are invited from among eminent folklorists whose scholarly contribution has during a long period of time been internationally and/or nationally important.” On the basis of this definition the Advisory Committee decided to invite thirty honorary members from twenty countries in Europe, Asia and North America. The list of FF honorary members will be published in FF Network in due course.
The Advisory Committee voted to invite 17 new full members, which brought the total number of members in this category up to 79 out of maximum 100 (19 of them from areas outside Europe and North America). The number of countries represented through honorary and full members is at present 35 (14 of these from outside Europe and North America). The recruitment of associate members is only just beginning and will take place during 1993.
The Advisory Committee also reached its maximum size, when two new members were elected to fill the vacant posts. They were Dr. Galit Hasan-Rokem, Senior Lecturer at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, and Professor Vilmos Voigt of Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest.
The immediate benefits of becoming an FF member will include a considerable discount on the monograph series FF Communications published by the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters, the information bulletin FF Network free of charge, a directory booklet FF List of Members (with basic information such as the address and fields of interest of each member) and a membership diploma to be issued later.
Among the items discussed by the Advisory Committee were the marketing of FF Communications, the need to continue to distribute FF Network also outside the circle of FF members (e.g. to selected scholars in neighbouring disciplines and folkloristically interested institutions and journals) and the possibility of letting the Folklore Fellows’ Summer School rotate in future years, both in Finland and elsewhere, possibly outside Europe, too. Rotation was seen as a means to alleviate the economic and organizational burden which the FFSS tends to place on the host country and also as a way to open up the training in question to more applicants by organizing more courses (presently less than 20 % of applicants can be accepted).
The relation between the FF and the ISFNR was seen as unproblematic, because they complement each other by pursuing different tasks (e.g. the ISFNR organizes world congresses whereas the FF concentrates on training courses and small workshops). The Folklore Fellows also covers all forms of folkloristic research, whereas the ISFNR specializes in folk-narrative studies.
An interesting discussion topic was how to interpret the task “to promote scholarly contacts” (FF Rules § 1). In the fairly near future, the need may arise to serve thematically organized groups of scholars, the size of which would be limited by the setting of practical goals. This would also open up potential for multidisciplinary work without changing the nature of the basic network of folklorists. These groups would be free to create their own forms of activity, but they would profit from the information network and publication activities which the Folklore Fellows can provide. Characteristics not to be compromised over, however, would be the international composition of such thematic groups and their leadership by a folklorist. The Advisory Committee was in favour of experimentation in this area.
As a field where such a thematic group could be constituted fairly easily, a “Folklore Fellows in Oral Epics” group was suggested by Lauri Honko, who offered the services of his working group, Oral Epics Project, for purposes of co-ordination. Another area deemed worthy of experimentation was “Folklore Fellows in Gender Studies” with Dr. Aili Nenola, acting Associate Professor of Folkloristics at Turku University, as coordinator. The Advisory Committee was in favour of letting these groups establish themselves during 1993-94 and invited similar proposals from other fields of current folkloristic interest.
The FF Advisory Committee will have one or more per capsulammeetings during 1993-94. The next venue for a personal meeting will be Mysore, India, in January 1995, in conjunction with the 11th ISFNR Congress.
On December 7, 1992, the Board of the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters nominated Hermann Bausinger, Professor at the University of Tübingen and Director of the Ludwig-Uhland-Institut für empirische Kulturwissenschaft, to the editorial board of the FF Communications. He is well-known for his studies on the forms of folk poetry, cultural identity, tradition and modernity, and a variety of socio-historical and linguistic topics. The series had Johannes Bolte as one of its founding fathers, and good connections with German scholars have continued ever since. The passing of Kurt Ranke nevertheless left a gap on the editorial board which has now been filled.
(FFN 6, March 1993: 1-2)