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We are the Folk: Rethinking Folklore in the Twenty-First Century


22-24 October 2014

The Instituto de Estudos de Literatura Tradicional (IELT), at Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal, is organising an international conference that will take his proclamation “Who are the folk? Among others, we are!” at face value and explore its implications from a wide range of disciplines, from science to humanities and the social sciences, to the visual and performative arts, philosophy, and politics, amongst others.

The manner in which folklorists study what they see as the creativity and richness of the ways people put meaning in their existence has often been taken as too static and decontextualized. The notion of “folklore” carries profoundly contradictory meanings and connotations. In Portugal, it has particularly been the case as a result of the interest in “popular culture” for propaganda purposes associated with the Estado Novo regime. Nonetheless, folklore’s appeal on the public is undeniable. Its presence in everyday life takes on many forms and appears in the vitality and diversity of social practices that call for renewed, less reductive approaches. This conference wishes to confront different perspectives and terminologies associated with the studies of culture, evaluating the practicality of the concept of folklore, the multiplicity of its meanings and its capacity to integrate interactions between traditional and contemporary expressions and appropriations in particular social, cultural and historical contexts.

Drawing on the growing interest cultural heritage has raised in the public sphere, and, simultaneously, on recent advances in the study of the uses of culture and memory, it is crucial to rethink the concept of folklore as well as the complexity of its manifestations and its impact on an increasingly interdisciplinary and participatory research.

Keynote Speakers: Alison Dundes Renteln, Christian Bromberger, Jorge Freitas Branco, Mário Correia, Pertti Anttonen and Tok Thompson.

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