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Folklore without Borders

Folklore Society council members Dr Matthew Cheeseman and Dr Paul Cowdell have
been funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council to run a research network
through 2024.

The network aims to understand how to embed greater equality, diversity,
and inclusion (EDI) within UK folklore. It hosts an international knowledge exchange on
folklore theory, method, and creative and curatorial practices.

You are invited to join it!

The network is focused on the UK and has already begun. Most of its initial members
are from England, with participants from Wales, Scotland, Norway, and the United States.

We’re conceiving of UK folklore as an assemblage collecting researchers, practitioners,
creative industry professionals, entrepreneurs, and communicators, all working across three
domains: academia (researchers, teachers), independent stakeholders (practitioners, artists,
writers; entrepreneurs), and cultural industries (museums, galleries, archives; media).

All our participants recognise diversity issues in folklore. Some are systemic to Higher
Education (HE), creative arts practice and entrepreneurship in the UK (the erasure or
under-representation of the minoritized; whether racially, disabled, LGBTQ+, female,
particularly at senior career stage), some are specific to the discipline (such as advocacy,
representation, and agency within folklore research), and some take heightened form in
the UK, where interest and involvement in folklore is overwhelmingly white, with an
absence of disability, urban, working class voices, diverse genders, races, and sexualities.

To facilitate knowledge exchange, the network has two Learned Societies as partners:
the Folklore Society and the American Folklore Society. The latter’s Cultural Diversity
Committee has, since 1994, developed practice and research in diversifying folklore.
There are three further partners: the Folklore Library and Archive, the Folklore Museums
Network, and Bloc Projects, a contemporary art gallery.

The network seeks to understand and share the cultural value of folklore. How can
the perception of folklore as something available to and practised by all groups enter the
practice of those who work with folklore in the UK? A series of six digital meetings and
three two-day events are designed to stimulate discussion and generate collaborations.

All of the network events help us discover ourselves through promoting and discussing
rigorous enquiry-led research in folklore. Membership of the network is open to anyone,
and all physical events are blended to make attendance possible by digital means.

If you’d like to join, please email m.cheeseman@derby.ac.uk for more information.
We’d also be particularly interested if you know of, or have examples of diversity, equity,
and inclusion in UK folklore.

Thank you!