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Creativity during the Covid lockdown: Life and Renewal During the Pandemic

  • 07-08/10/2021
  • 10:00 - 17:00
  • online

Folklore and Anthropology in Conversation: The Sixth Joint Seminar of The Folklore Society and The Royal Anthropological Institute

‘Creativity during the Covid lockdown: Life and Renewal During the Pandemic’

A Virtual, Two-Day Conference

Date:  Thursday 7 and Friday 8 October, 2021.

Time:  10 AM to 5:30 PM.

The Royal Anthropological Institute, and The Folklore Society are very pleased to be continuing their annual series of joint conferences and discussions, this year on the theme of ‘Creativity during the Covid lockdown’.

Folklorists and anthropologists have long been aware of the continuity in and endless change and renewal of customs and narratives around the meaning of life at critical times.   During the Covid pandemic many of us have noted and commented on the new forms of sociality which have emerged,  the new forms of art,  the revival and alteration of customs and their re-use, and the re-emergence of conspiracy narratives around pandemic controls.

This year, our joint one-day conference will reflect on the range of responses during the Covid pandemic.   Papers examining traditional customs,  new practices,  the re-use of pandemic narratives,  and any other culture practice which reflects a response to the global pandemic are most welcome.

The conference will take virtually, on Thursday 7 and Friday 8 October 2021. There is no conference fee

More information

Thursday 7 October 

10:00:   Welcome: Dr. David Shankland,  Director,  Royal Anthropological Institute.

10:15-11: 30:  Session 1   –  ‘Oral Folklore 1’

Moderator: Professor James H. Grayson,  The Folklore Society

Marianthi Kaplanoglou (National and Kapodistrian University of Athens), George Tserpes (National and Kapodistrian University of Athens): ‘A Pandemic of Proverbs’ – Political Humour and Narrative Cultures during the COVID lockdown’.

Maria Ines Palleiro (Buenos Aires University), Maria Eugenia Peltzer (La Plata University): Felicitas Guerrero and Other Femicides: History and Legend in Pandemic Times.

Robert McDowall (The Folklore Society, UK): No Island is an Island:  COVID 19-perspectives on Everyday Life and Behaviour from a Small Island.

11:45-13:00: Session 2   –  ‘COVID and the Arts 1 ’

Moderator: Dr David Shankland,  Director,  Royal Anthropological Institute

Cathy Greenhaigh  (Independent Scholar): Covid Collage Chronicles:  Collage as Modus Vivendi.

Natasha Mayo  (Cardiff Metropolitan University): Irreducible Forces of Home.

Collen Deatherage  (St. Stephens College, University of Alberta): Narrative Textiles:  Coping through Creativity.

13:30-14:45: Session 3   –  ‘Festivals and Pilgrimages’

Moderator: Professor Patricia Lysaght,  Vice-President,  The Folklore Society

Pedro Ricardo Coelho de Azevedo (University of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Duoro, Portugal): The Return to the Ways of St. James in the Northern Interior of Portugal in a Post-COVID 19 Pandemic Framework.

Margaret Bullen (University of the Basque Country, Spain): A Year without Festivals in the Basque Country: A Unique Opportunity for the Re-invention of Tradition ?

Martha Radice (Dalhousie University,  Nova Scotia): Re-creating Carnival in New Orleans during the COVID19 Pandemic.

15:00-16:15:  Session  4  –  ‘Childlore’

Moderator: Professor James H. Grayson,  The Folklore Society

Catherine Bannister (The University of Sheffield),  Yinka Olusoga (The University of Sheffield): A Merry Minecraft Christmas ?  Children’s Playful Multimodal Response to Custom and Ritual during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Anna Beresin (The University of the Arts, Philadelphia): Techno Mischief:  A Micro-ethnographic Study of Virtual Play during COVID.

Julia Bishop (The University of Sheffield): Playground Games in Pandemic Times: Continuity and Creativity in ‘Coronavirus Tig.

16:15-17:00: General Discussion

Moderator: Professor James H. Grayson, The Folklore Society

Friday 8 October

10:00-11:15: Session 5  –  ‘Rituals’

Moderator: Professor Patricia Lysaght,  Vice-President, The Folklore Society

Helen Frisby (University of the West of England): ‘When Circumstances Allow …’:  English Funerals during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Diane Rodgers (Sheffield Hallam University): Creative COVID Customs and Folklore in Contemporary Film and Television.

Rahul Rose (London School of Economics): Coronavirus as Goddess: Fake News or a Form of Empowerment ?

11:30-12:45: Session  6   –   ‘COVID and the Arts 2’

Moderator: Dr. David Shankland,  Director,  Royal Anthropological Institute

Catherine O’Brien (Keble College, Oxford University): COVID,  Clay and the Digital: Investigating the Role of Learning Resources and Digital Sociality in the Development of Pottery Skills in COVID-19 Britain.

Diana Ocholla (University of Cape Town): Commemorating Community Mobilisation in a Pandemic through Collaborative Video.

Mónica Jaramillo Sanjuán: Onscreen Dance:  Ongoing Response to COVID-19 Pandemic.

13:15-14:30: Session 7 –  ‘Oral Folklore 2’

Moderator: Professor Patricia Lysaght,  Vice-President,  The Folklore Society

James F.  Rosie (Royal Anthropological Institute): Oral Traditions of the Global village:  New Expressions of Creativity and Community.

Sarah Sprules (University of Wales, Trinity St. Davids): The Role of the Internet in Modern Folklore:  Communal Heritage and Social Identity.

Andrew Robinson (Sheffield Hallam University): ‘Tomorrow will be a better day’: Vernacular Rainbow Displays during the COVID-19 Lockdown in Britain’.

14:45-16:00:  Session 8  –  ‘COVID and the Arts  3’

Moderator: Professor James H. Grayson,  The Folklore Society

Maria Christoforou (Nicosia, Cyprus): The Corona Haiku Project:  A Response to the Lockdowns.

Tom Crowley (University of Cambridge): ‘Alfred Rowlett’s Magical Charms’.

Thomas Cressy (Cornell University, USA): Diffused Affect: Rhizomatic Sociality and the Turn to On-line Platforms among Japanese Performers of ‘Early Music’.

16:00-16:30: General discussion, and conclusions from symposium

Moderator – Dr. David Shankland,  Director,  Royal Anthropological Institute


Abstracts and Biographies of Presenters

Pedro Ricardo Coelho de Azevedo (University of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Duoro, Portugal) The Return to the Ways of St. James in the Northern Interior of Portugal in a Post-COVID 19 Pandemic Framework.

Pilgrims and tourists are beginning to return to the Way of Saint James after a period of more than a year of interruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and the successive closures adopted in various countries. Currently, the Oficina del Peregrino itself registers an upturn in the number of pilgrims arriving at Santiago de Compostela. It is intended to demonstrate that the particular characteristics that the Ways of St. James existing in the interior north of Portugal such as the Interior Portuguese Way of Saint James (PIWSC), the Via de la Plata and other Ways, make them receive an increasing demand of tourists and pilgrims, contrasting with the pre-pandemic period, as they were routes that saw a reduced movement. In view of this, this presentation intends to demonstrate how the Ways lead to a return that becomes understood as a means that allows one to slow down the pace of life, moments and practices of sociability, contact with nature and the countryside, and above all, allow moments of self-reflection on one’s own life.

Pedro Azevedo has a degree in History and a Masters in Cultural Heritage and
Cultural Tourism from the University of Minho. He is currently a researcher at the Centre for Transdisciplinary Studies for Development (CETRAD) and at the University of Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro (UTAD), where he is developing a research thesis in the areas of Anthropology and Tourism, with the support of the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT), which focuses on the theme of the Ways of Saint James in Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro, northern Portugal. The scientific production carried out has culminated in several works whose main themes focus on the identification and the phenomenon of heritagization of these routes towards Santiago de Compostela.

Catherine Bannister (The University of Sheffield, UK)
A Merry Minecraft Christmas ? Children’s Playful Multimodal Response to Custom and Ritual during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Dr Cath Bannister is based at Sheffield University’s School of Education, where she is a research associate on the Play Observatory project; a collaboration between researchers at Sheffield, University College, London’s Institute of Education and the Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis at UCL, and partner organisations. The project is exploring children’s play and peer cultures during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

She was previously a researcher on the ‘Children, Technology and Play’ study, funded by the LEGO Foundation, contributing to the project’s final research report. Cath was also part of the cataloguing team for ‘Playing the Archive: Memory, Community and Mixed Reality Play’, working with the digitised working papers of Iona and Peter Opie to establish an online archive.

Cath’s interests include the rituals and cultural traditions of uniformed youth organisations such as Scouting and Guiding, and contemporary rites of passage for young people, including children’s digital and online ritualised practices.

(for the abstract of the presentation, see Yinka Olusoga)

Professor Anna Beresin (The University of the Arts, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A)
Techno Mischief: A Micro-ethnographic Study of Virtual Play During COVID

During the pandemic, families reported having sleepovers, playdates and social time online, creatively displaying toys the way adults displayed faces in conversation. In this presentation, we will examine aspects of two sets of American siblings vying for facetime in the Goffman sense as they wrestle, sing, shop, share, and do pranks on Zoom. Following the micro-ethnographic video methodology of anthropologists Ray Birdwhistell, Frederick Erickson, and Jürgen Streeck, the video transcription shows complex skill building and cultural shape shifting in a playdate that was seen as mere chaos by the adults. The video-analysis is part of a larger study of social play during COVID that lasted from Dec 2020 to May 2021 in urban Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the United States. The paper suggests that online open-ended play has many of the same features as playground play in a tiny territory and at intense speeds. What emerges is a reflection of the inventiveness of children and the fundamental social aspect of play itself. Images and transcripts will be shared documenting how children navigated the online play world through techno mischief, how they found ways to self-challenge during the pandemic, and how they found ways to self-soothe online.

Anna Beresin is professor of psychology and folklore at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, and also is a visiting professor at Sarah Lawrence College and Bryn Mawr College. Anna holds two simultaneous PhDs from the University of Pennsylvania, one in the psychology of child cultures and one in folklore/ethnography. Dr. Beresin’s research focuses on play culture in public playgrounds with a particular emphasis on video micro analysis and social justice. The book Recess Battles: Playing, Fighting, and Storytelling won the Opie Prize from the American Folklore Society, and an article on a play community engagement program won the Dorothy Howard Award. Anna serves as co-editor of the International Journal of Play and is known for really bad puns.

Dr. Julia Bishop (The University of Sheffield, UK)
Playground Games in Pandemic Times: Continuity and Creativity in ‘Coronavirus Tig’

This paper reports on what we know of ‘coronavirus tig’, an umbrella term for the touch chase games that emerged and developed among school-aged children during the various phases of the pandemic, and related language play, taunts and pranks. This fascinating complex of materials provides insights into children’s practices of re-creation as they mix, match and extemporise on these ‘loose parts’ (Nicholson 1971) from the world around them, meshing them with their prior knowledge and experience, and accommodating strictures imposed on them, to create games which fit and fill the moment. This reveals the multiple and the multimodal ways in which the children pick up on current affairs in global and local contexts, weaving them dynamically into their expressive culture.
The study draws on children’s own accounts as well as adults’ observations, gleaned from survey and interview data gathered by the Play Observatory (https://play-observatory.com/) and cognate research projects, as well as reports in the media and on social media. These will be compared with historical evidence of touch chase games and topical/media-referenced play. We will also consider the conditions that might govern whether such adaptations are short-lived or will persist in the longer term.

Julia Bishop is a part-time Research Associate in the School of Education, The University of Sheffield, where she studies children’s folklore. Julia focuses on creativity, continuity and change, especially in musical play, and children’s agency in these processes, and her research often combines synchronic and diachronic approaches. She has extensive experience of ethnographic work with children and has conducted historical research into the collections of Iona and Peter Opie, Norman Douglas, James T. R. Ritchie, and J. M. Carpenter.

As well as various articles, Julia’s publications include Changing Play: Play, Media and Commercial Culture From the 1950s to the Present Day (co-authored with Jackie Marsh, 2014), The Lifework and Legacy of Iona and Peter Opie: Research into Children’s Play (co-edited with June Factor, 2019), and Play Today in the Primary School Playground: Life, Learning and Creativity (co-edited with Mavis Curtis, 2001).

Margaret Bullen (University of the Basque Country, Spain)
A Year without Festivals in the Basque Country: A Unique Opportunity for the Re-invention of Tradition ?

This paper describes some initiatives related to the participation of women in fiestas in the Basque Country during the pandemic. Given the cancellation of many cultural events since the confinement beginning in March 2020, the year has passed without the customary fiestas, both in the summer and winter cycles. Initially, a discourse of ‘death’ and ‘catastrophe’ prevailed, in reference to the disappearance of the cultural and festive scene. However, over the year other metaphors have been used to express the need to care not only for people but also for heritage, to sacrifice fun to save lives or to keep alive the flame of the festive spirit. A dialectic emerges between notions of resistance and rebellion, destruction and recreation. Some feminist groups have suggested that instead of fighting to rescue the festive spirit from the ashes of COVID-19, this could be a moment of reflection on the dominant androcentric festive model. This presentation, then, looks at ways celebration is being questioned with the aim of achieving greater equality for women and men, introducing alternative ways of doing things and sharing the festive space with those who do not usually take the stage.

Margaret Bullen is a British social anthropologist living in the Basque Country since 1991. She has been part of the Faculty of Education, Philosophy and Anthropology at the University of the Basque Country since 2005. She graduated in Modern Languages (French and Spanish) at the University of Bristol (1987), and did a PhD at the Institute of Latin American Studies, University of Liverpool (1991) on cultural and social economic change among Andean migrants in the shanty towns of Arequipa, Peru.

Research interests in migration, identity, language and change have remained a constant, strengthened by a gendered perspective and focus on gender and symbolic systems. As a member of AFIT (Feminist Anthropology Research Group) she has participated in the project Continuities, conflicts and ruptures with regard to inequality: gender relations and bodily and emotional practices amongst the Basque youth and is currently working on the project New solidarities, reciprocities and alliances. The emergence of collaborative spaces of political participation and redefinition of citizenship, funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitivity.

Parallel to these projects, her individual research has centred on conflicts relating to changes proposed in rituals in the festival context, especially the polemic over the participation of women in the parades or Alardes of Hondarribia and Irun, but also the Moor’s Parade in Antzuola or Drum Parade (Tamborrada) of Donostia-San Sebastián, among others. This has an applied angle: in 2002, Bullen co-founded Farapi, the first Basque consultancy in applied anthropology, and continues to collaborate in gender related projects of social impact.

Her most recent project in this sense – with Lidia Montesinos and Begoña Pecharromán – was commissioned by Emakunde, the Basque Institute for Women: Strategies for the Participation of Women in Local Festivals in the Basque Autonomous Community (published March 2021).

Maria Christoforou (University of Nicosia, Cyprus)
The Corona Haiku Project: A Response to the Lockdowns.

The Corona Haikus project was a response to the lockdowns that were being imposed around the globe and to the subsequent impossibility to continue life as it had been planned – a response to the shock, to the fear of the unknown and to the need to create, new forms of art in a space to be together and to feel connected. The proposition was simple: three images and a haiku poetic text on the experience of lockdown. The curated work has been built in a virtual gallery (Corona Haikus Community, 2020). Corona Haikus is a collaborative project developed by Sandelion Producitons and reached 1100 members from around the world.

The paper aims to analyse project’s contribution in critical times and focus on the new forms of art and narratives that have emerged. The analysis is driven by variables i.e. Strong emotions, Catharsis, Vulnerability, Resilience, Flexibility, Spirituality, Empathy, Interaction, Storytelling, Location and Virtual and Real Space. Projects such as this invite digital media, creating challenging new artistic methodologies during the Covid pandemic.

Maria Christoforou is an artist and academic in the Applied Multimedia programme in the Department of Design and Multimedia, University of Nicosia (2004-present day).
She is also is a doctoral candidate at Nottingham Trent University. She holds a Master of Arts in interactive Multimedia, a Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Communication, an Associate Degree in Science and a Diploma in Secretarial and Accounting Studies. She has studied at the University of the Arts, London School of Printing, the University of Nicosia, the University of Indianapolis and Pitman’s College, and was recently awarded the Life Coach title from the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens.

As a creative artist, she is very active in organizing and creating exhibitions, and has mounted five solo exhibitions and participated in various group exhibitions and international festivals. Mrs. Christoforou also participated in many workshops, seminars and conferences in Cyprus, United Kingdom, Germany, France and Portugal. She has gained many honorary diplomas and other awards such as Third Prize in the PlayStation Awards for the interactive movie “Elements”, (London 2002).

Additionally, she has two book publications: From Canvas to Screen (2011) in which artwork co-exists with the text, describing artist’s reflections and feelings. In Comments and Crisis (2014), she showshow the economic crisis influences and depicts our aesthetic in everyday life. Photos taken by the artist co-exist with the text and comments.

Mrs. Christoforou is also a digital artist and play-writer in interactive educational performances for children and adults. The performances integrate digital media and challenge audience senses and encourage empathy. She is a co-curator of the international project Corona Haikus and has participated as an artist in the projects ‘Corona Haikus Journey’ and ‘Corona Haikus Visual Poetry in Times of Isolation’.

Thomas Cressy (Cornell University, USA)
Diffused Affect: Rhizomatic Sociality and the Turn to On-line Platforms among Japanese Performers of ‘Early Music’.

Can music in pandemic times address a public in ways irreducible to the mob ‘mana’ affect explored by William Mazzarella? What rituals or new forms of sociality are we participating in when we plug into pandemic-times technologically mediated online concerts? Rather than seeing ‘affect’ as a process involving abstract political messages that are pre-designed to be made personal by a public, can we engage with how online listening affords a more unpredictable affect?

This paper attempts to grapple with Mazzarella’s theory of affect and publics with the example of Japanese performers of European ‘Early Music,’ particularly that of Johann Sebastian Bach. Do Japanese performances of such music move our consciousness and sense of place, atmosphere, and temporality elsewhere? Theoretical positions offered by anthropologists Judith Becker and Tim Ingold will be applied to the pandemic situation, re-evaluating anthropological concepts relating to atmosphere, trance, and the cosmic. Webb Keane’s approach to ‘affordances,’ ritual speech, and semiotics will also be explored, showing how subjectivity and the material affordances of the musical work itself still must be considered in pandemic times; even if Mazzarella’s idea of the ‘intimacy of strangers’ remains relevant for covid-time listening rituals, technologically mediated audiences and musical affect are more unpredictable, global, and diffuse.

Thomas Cressy (PhD Candidate, Cornell University) is from Akrotiri and Dhekelia, Cyprus, later moving to Scotland. He holds an MA Music (Hons 1st class) from the University of Glasgow, MA Musicology (Distinction) from Tokyo University of the Arts, MSc Social Anthropology (Distinction) from Oxford University, and an MA Ethno/Musicology from Cornell University.

Thomas is interested in the academic intersections between anthropology, social theory, and musicology – currently focusing on ethnographic and anthropological approaches to classical music in East Asian institutional and concert settings. His field site for his ethnographic work has been Japan since 2013, where he has also conducted historical and archival work on the music of the foreign trading settlements of 19th century East Asia, and Japanese music conservatoires. Anthropological approaches to globalization, glocalization, material culture, affordance, ritual, affect, and affinity are of particular interest for his work – especially in relation to the circulation of cultural forms such as music.

His work includes several published translations, numerous conference presentations and lectures across Europe and East Asia (in both Japanese and English), articles, and book chapters focusing on the music, history, and religion of Japan: including book chapters for the Seshat History of the Axial Age (Beresta Books 2019) and Transcultural History: Global Participation and Regional Diversity in the Modern Age (VWB-Verlag für Wissenschaft und Bildung 2021). Recently, he has worked with overseas Japanese communities as well as Chinese music institutions – for the latter of which he has conducted comparative work on the history of classical music in China. In 2019, he was a guest lecturer at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing; in 2020, he published an article on the 19th-century Chinese reception of baroque music, in China’s top musicology journal: Musicology Journal of the Central Conservatory of Music.

Tom Crowley (University of Cambridge, UK)
Alfred Rowlett’s Magical Charms

The exhibition consists of 19 drawings which I made over the past year. Along with millions of others, Covid meant that my world came to be defined by the walls of my bedroom.
The small, square drawings reflect the confines of my small, square room. In the process of creating them, however, I found something of an escape from the claustrophobia of lockdown.

The drawings either represent stone charms collected by a healer called Alfred Rowlett around the turn of the last century, or the Cambridgeshire landscapes and places which he collected the charms from. The charms are currently on display in the Horniman Museum’s World Gallery, juxtaposed with photos of charms brought in by visitors and overshadowed by a ‘clootie tree’ onto which tens of thousands of visitors have tied wishes. When I worked as a curator at the Horniman, I was responsible for producing this section of the gallery.
Their impact lies partly in the fact that they demonstrate the ongoing capacity of the charms to have a cathartic influence over those who have been associated with them. Whilst originally they helped those who carried them address specific fears or maladies, in my case their efficacy came through the link between my memory of them and the imaginative and creative process of drawing.

Tom Crowley is DPhil Candidate at the University of Cambridge. His is in museums and before starting doctoral research worked as a curator of anthropology at the Horniman Museum and Gardens, London. His doctoral research concerns the Kalasha of north-western Pakistan, a ‘pagan’ community which has been the subject of several highly politicised attempts at ‘cultural preservation’. Other interests include the intersection between the politics of representation and the heritage sector, especially in the British context.
At the Horniman Museum, Crowley was one of the curators of the World Gallery, a permanent display of over 3000 objects. His principal publications includeTom Crowley and Andrew Mills (eds.) 2018. Weapons, Violence and the Anthropology Museum. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars.

Collen Deatherage (St. Stephens College, University of Alberta, Canada)
Narrative Textiles: Coping through Creativity.

Since the start of the pandemic, media outlets report a dramatic increase in domestic arts, particularly textiles, as a way of coping with stress. The re-emergence of the fabric/fibre arts comes as no surprise given the enduring history of textiles as more than just a utilitarian product. Textiles have long been a fundamental part of coping, consciousness raising, and connecting with others. Current examples of textiles’ importance will be considered and anchored to the past by illuminating the ongoing social justice, healing, and communicative aspects of the practice. An analysis of the current situation focussed on the pandemic, and contextualised with the past use of narrative textiles in particular, will be the heart of this paper.

Colleen Sheehan Deatherage is a folklorist and medical social worker currently completing her doctoral education at St. Stephen’s College, University of Alberta. Her dissertation, an ethnography considering the experience of personal sanctuary when living with a chronic illness has been turned in and she hopes there will be few revisions. Her research interests tend to focus on domestic arts activities and material culture where her love of folklore and social work come together.

Helen Frisby (University of the West of England, UK)
When Circumstances Allow …: English Funerals during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

The Covid-19 pandemic continues to test entrenched notions of what constitutes a good send-off, and thereby to inspire novel ritualisations of mortality. Well, maybe; in this talk I will probe this emerging narrative, exploring how many of these ritual responses to restrictions upon funerals may well also, in time, come to be understood as the latest chapter in a much longer, deeper and ongoing story of how we have dealt with death and coped with corpses throughout history. Or to put it another way, the past – whether consciously or not – proffers a rich repository of ideas and tools when it comes to getting ritually creative in the face of so very much mortality. As circumstances have necessitated the rapid (re)creation of funerary ritual since March 2020, as a historian of this subject over the last millennium one is struck most of all by the manner in which the fundamental principles of funerary ritual – including power and rivalry, community and technology, and above all the need bravely to stand up to Death itself – continue under Covid restrictions to endure much as they have done for centuries.

Helen Frisby obtained her PhD on Victorian funeral customs from the University of Leeds in 2009. She continues to research, publish and speak on the history and folklore of death, dying and bereavement, including appearances on the History Channel and BBC Radio. Her most recent research investigates the informal occupational culture of frontline cemetery staff. Helen is Secretary of the Association for the Study of Death & Society (ASDS) and a Council Member of The Folklore Society. She has previously taught British and European history, and on the University of Bath’s Foundation Degree in Funeral Services. Helen is now Researcher Development Manager at the University of the West of England Bristol, with particular expertise in academic writing skills, qualitative research methods and postgraduate researcher wellbeing.

Cathy Greenhalgh (Independent Scholar)
Covid Collage Chronicles: Collage as Modus Vivendi.

During the pandemic, I’ve switched from film-making to collage. My modus operandi has become my modus vivendi and what began as creative therapy developed into a visual anthropology chronicle, an ‘ars combinatoria’ diary of the year 2020 to 2021. Over two hundred and fifty collages, so far, cover aspects of communication, culture, economy, environment, health, people, politics, protest, and spirit, and personal territory (grief from family losses and having Covid myself). The work in process was shown as an art exhibition at the RAI Film Festival in March 2021. The series incorporates lockdown activities, uprisings and trauma, grief and conspiracies, resilience and infection. I post the collages on Instagram and Facebook where I have built up a dialogue. Physical techniques (in this case on 10” square cake cards) interface with appropriation, juxtaposition, absurdity, shock, humour and transgression. For this paper, I will show several collages and draw on theories about collage and montage process (Rona Cran, David Banash, Yuval Etgar and collage as therapy (Laurie Kanyer), pertinent in its strategies and unusual formations in addressing the existential and creative dilemmas which have arisen during the pandemic.

Cathy Greenhalgh is a film-maker (director/cinematographer), lecturer, media anthropologist and writer. She has over thirty years teaching expertise, most recently as Principal Lecturer in Film and Television at the London College of Communication, University of the Arts London. She has a BA in Fine Art and an MA in Cinematography from the National Film and Television School, UK, and is completing her PhD by Published Work at the Central Research Unit, Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London.

Cathy spent fifteen years as a professional cinematographer in the film and commercials industries. She is currently working as a freelance filmmaker, writer and teacher, running workshops in the UK and abroad. She has conducted long term ethnographic research with feature film cinematographers (1995-2018 ongoing), and more recently, documentary camera people. She directs and shoots ethnographic essay documentaries and art film shorts for cinema, gallery and museum spaces (collaborations with choreographers, animators and sonic artists).

Research interests and publications centre on sensory ethnography and material culture of light, landscape and textiles; the anthropology of media and visual anthropology; collaborative and interdisciplinary creativity, filmmaking practices and communities of practice, cinematographic phenomena and aesthetics.

She has published several book chapters including ‘Shooting from the Heart : Cinematographers and their Medium’ in Making Pictures: A Century of European Cinematography (2003, Special Commendation Prize, Krasna Krause Moving Image book awards); Cathy’s films have been screened in film festivals worldwide. Aftermath (2006) won first prize Best Experimental Film at Strange Screen Film Festival, Greece. Covid Collage Chronicles was shown as an online Exhibition at Royal Anthropological Institute Film Festival in March 2021 (140 x photo-collages in 4 filmed presentations with artists statement and public talk chaired by Felicia Hughes-Freeland).

Marianthi Kaplanoglou (National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece)
‘A Pandemic of Proverbs’ – Political Humour and Narrative Cultures during the COVID lockdown.

In January 2021, while Greek society still endured the shock of a long – term severe lock down due to the global pandemic, “a pandemic of proverbs” becomes the most popular hashtag on twitter. In the framework of the folkloristic theory of genres and through combining methodologically, other cases of proverb usage during the current period, this paper examines the implications of this new folk creativity in social media and daily life.
It mainly addresses the impressive knowledge of traditional proverbs exhibited by the users of twitter and their apparent need to resort to the authority of past wisdom, as well as their tendency towards the re-appropriation of these expressions in order to respond to the new critical situation. The paper also explores the linguistic and poetic formation of these (anti)proverbs, as well as how these folk expressions reshape communication strategies and negotiate personal and collective identities in both contemporary mediums and social life. It thus highlights the dialectical coalescence of oppositional terms, such as the serious / humorous, the formal / informal and the economic-political versus the psychological.
All the above are examined within the context of the rhetoric of proverbs, as well as
in the light of the subversive mood of folk culture, especially in times of crisis.

Marianthi Kaplanoglou studied at the University of Athens and the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales as a student of Michalis Meraklis, André Guillou and Claude Bremond. She joined the Department of Primary Education of the University of the Aegean (1996-2008) and since 2008, the Department of Philology of the University of Athens.

Her research interests are on folk narrative, the social history of folk culture, comparative folklore and literature of Southeastern Europe and the Mediterranean, children’s folklore and folklore in education. She is a member of the editing committee for the publication of Georgios Megas’ National Catalogue of Greek Folktales, edited by the Greek National Research Center and the Academia Scientiarum Fennica. She was among the scientific partners for the edition of the Enzyklopädie des Märchens by the Akademie der Wissenschaften of Göttingen.

She was also member of the organizational committees of the international conferences ‘The Brothers Grimm and the Folktale: Narrations, Readings, Transformations’ and the conference ‘From Homer to Hatzi-Yavrouda: Aspects of Oral Narration in the Greek Tradition’. She is co-director with Michalis Meraklis of the series of translations of international folklore studies (including translations of Hermann Bausinger’s, Volkskultur in der technischen Welt, Max Lüthi’s, Das Volksmärchen als Dichtung, Pertti J. Anttonen’s, Tradition through modernity. Postmodernism and the nation-state in Folklore scholarship). Dr. Kaplanoglou is also a member of Greek Folklore Society and of the GRENO (Groupe de Recherche Européen sur la Narrative Orale). She has published books and articles in international journals such as Folklore, Fabula, Estudis, Estudis de Literatura Oral Popular, Archivio Anthropologico Mediterraneo, Folklore Fellows Network and others.

Natasha Mayo (Cardiff Metropolitan University, UK)
Irreducible Forces of Home.

All homes contain a kind of material-lore, indexical and intentional illustrations reflecting the lives of the people who live there, tracing histories, triggering family narratives. In my home, thoughts and activities are captured in fleeting spaces through drawings creeping up walls, stairs, along hallways and landings, informing your periphery of the fictitious, the factual and playful events of our family.

Drawing on walls has become a life-cycle event, marking changes and transformations as they arise. We are growing in these spaces and these spaces are growing in us, a collaboration of kinds, building the textures and imagery synonymous with ‘home’, what it means to belong and to be part of something outside ourselves.
In the first phase of covid, it seemed as if other families adopted this behaviour, using their homes as canvas, witnessed in paintings of rainbows in nearly every window in our street. As the pandemic progressed, these illustrated forces of ‘home’ burst out from bricks and mortar to re-emerge as secret dens across the city, a zeigtgiest engaging all ages from fairy forts to teenage communities.

For many, the material-lore of ‘home’ lay dormant or unrecognised until lockdown, at which point its irreducible forces – a space containing memories, a shelter for day-dreaming – mobilised, tracing the ‘living history’ of families along pavements, parks and green spaces and contributing to a new, albeit temporary, sociality.

Dr Natasha Mayo is a practitioner, researcher and since 2014 senior lecturer in the discipline of ceramics at the National Centre for Ceramics Studies in Wales, Cardiff School of Art & Design. Her ceramic practice is fuelled by an interest in the materials sociability, in practices that move between social, technical as well as creative ways of working – running cross-disciplinary workshops between ceramics, drawing, poetry, sensory perception, dance and archaeology alongside her figurative practice – to test the boundaries and preconceptions of the discipline and identify more wholistic generative approaches to creativity.

Robert McDowall (The Folklore Society / Royal Anthropological Institute)
No Island is an Island: COVID 19-perspectives on Everyday Life and Behaviour from a Small Island.

The Channel Islands, Guernsey and Alderney (where the author lives) , while not as impacted by Covid-19 as the UK mainland (13 deaths in Guernsey, no deaths and only one positive case in Alderney) became more physically and emotionally isolated from the UK than at any time since World War II occupation. Concurrently, apart from two short interludes (April-May 2020 and late January until the end of February 2021, there were no restrictions on life and activity within the Islands other than strict quarantine on visitors from outside the Islands. This paper will reflect on the impact of isolation on behaviour and activities throughout the pandemic with comment, illustration and conclusions on the impact of Covid-19.

Robert McDowall is a former Treasurer (1997-2009) and President of the Folklore Society (2011-2014). He is a Member of the Finance Committee of the RAI and chairs the RAI’s Fund Raising sub-committee. Periodically, he writes about contemporary and historic facets of folklore including “the Folklore of Finance’ and ‘Folklore, Identity and Nationalism” , which are published by Long Finance Pamphleteer and Folklore Thursday respectively. He is the External Member of the Armenian Civic Society, which seeks to promote cultural exchanges with Armenia… He has a Law Degree from University College , London.

Catherine O’Brien (Keble College, Oxford University, UK)
COVID, Clay and the Digital: Investigating the Role of Learning Resources and Digital Sociality in the Development of Pottery Skills in COVID-19 Britain.

The literature on skill in anthropology has focused largely on how it is developed and transmitted through social, participatory, and embodied processes, foregrounding how it is learnt in ‘communities of practice’, that exist in physical spaces where engagement between persons, materials, and environment occur. However, due to government-sanctioned periods of lockdown and social distancing measures during the pandemic many people in Britain have been turning to online video tutorials, social media sites such as Instagram and Facebook, printed materials, and pre-made kits, to learn at home, outside of the physical and social structures offered in the classroom or studio. This paper adopts a Material Engagement Theory perspective and draws upon ethnography, digital-ethnography using Instagram, and interviews with a range of novices to professional potters discussing two key points. First, the centrality of social interaction in skill development and how this is impacted by learning from home. Second, the capacity of different media to capture the processual and sensory nature of pottery, considering learning resources as well as anthropological methods.

Catherine O’Brien is a second-year DPhil student in Archaeology at Keble College, University of Oxford funded by the Clarendon Fund. She holds a BA in Archaeology and Anthropology as well as an MSc in Visual, Material Museum Anthropology, also from Keble College. Her DPhil project is titled: ‘Potting in the Pandemic: Adopting a Material Engagement Theory (MET) approach to investigate pottery skill development and its affective impact in COVID-19 Britain’.

This research centres around three key questions: Firstly, does digital or socially distanced learning alter skill development, and what is the role of learning resources in developing pottery skills outside of ‘traditional’ educational structures? Secondly, are there affective impacts, whether negative or positive, generated through learning pottery skills, and why is this? Thirdly, does this topic, and the context in which this investigation is conducted, require the development of new methodologies to capture, analyse, and present this research? Overall, her research interests centre around: Material Engagement Theory, cognitive archaeology, anthropology, ethnography, digital ethnography, participatory ethnography, visual methodologies, mental health, wellbeing, skill development, digital learning, social media, pottery, and craftwork. She is also part of her supervisor, Lambros Malafouris’, ERC funded project HANDMADE: Understanding Creative Gesture in Pottery Making, which explores the centrality of handmaking processes in human becoming.

Diana Ocholla (University of Cape Town, South Africa)
Commemorating Community Mobilisation in a Pandemic through Collaborative Video.

The COVID-19 pandemic will forever be etched into the world’s collective memory as a defining event of our generation. In South Africa, Community Action Networks (CANs) – community-driven initiatives responding to community needs through activities such as feeding schemes, donation drives, mask sewing, and more – sprung up across the country during the pandemic crisis. This virtual, participatory, and art-based study was conducted with seven CAN members based in Woodstock, a suburb in Cape Town, South Africa. It asked ‘what are the outcomes when a community connects remotely to commemorate their experiences during a pandemic using art-based methods?’ We engaged in Zoom workshops, collaborative video, and in-depth semi-structured interviews over a period of five months. Key themes included commemorating to reflect upon and celebrate community response to crisis, and learning to meaningfully engage online while creating solid relationships that translated to offline spaces. Video, as the chosen arts-medium, empowered participants to tell their stories in their voices, and capture moments in time creatively and visually. By cocreating a video to commemorate and document experiences of a community-driven pandemic response, the potential of social change was explored as a community controlled the narrative of their experiences and memories during COVID-19.

Diana Ocholla is a Communications Coordinator in a project called Accelerate Hub based at the University of Cape Town (South Africa) which aims to improve the lives of adolescents in Africa through research and policy engagement around the Sustainable Development Goals.

She is also completing a MPhil degree specialising in Inclusive Innovation at the UCT Graduate School of Business. Her thesis is on commemorating community mobilisation in a pandemic through collaborative video. With a group that she’s been working with remotely since April, she’s created a video to document the unique community response of a suburb in Cape Town during the hard lockdown.

Diana is also a dancer, performer, and choreographer. In 2019, as a response to Gender Based Violence in South Africa, she initiated, organised and performed a piece called ‘Rise’ as part of Project Ripple during the Muizenberg Festival. Watch the video interview here for ‘Art as activism’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E1iPX3eO3EA&t=1s. Her passions include social innovation and entrepreneurship, social justice, youth development, and gender equal


Dr Yinka Olusoga and Dr. Catherine Bannister (The University of Sheffield, UK)
A Merry Minecraft Christmas ?: Children’s playful multimodal responses to custom and ritual during the COVID-19 pandemic

In the UK, successive lockdowns and social distancing measures during the COVID-19 pandemic have affected children’s social, cultural, and play lives in multiple ways. This paper explores how children and young people have been innovatively adapting cultural practices, making life course events and calendar customs meaningful during the pandemic. Also, how adults within communities and organisations have supported young people in marking habitually social celebrations.

We consider how children, through games such as Minecraft and social media platforms, have connected to friends, family and community, playfully observing special occasions in virtual spaces. These spaces offer children freedom from offline restrictions while functioning as extensions of their everyday worlds, with cultural practices and ritualised performances enacted across on and offline environments.

Drawing on contributions to the ‘Play Observatory’ (play-observatory.com) survey devised by academics from The University of Sheffield and University College London, including digital Christmas gift-giving, a Halloween Zoom event for Scouts, and community celebrations organised through Facebook, we examine how children have adapted customs in a situation that has given them increased agency to shape their celebrations. We ask what this reveals about children’s understanding of traditions, and ‘ritual literacy’, and how their practices might inform celebrations in a post-pandemic world.

Dr Yinka Olusoga is a Lecturer in Education and Course Director of the BA in Education, Culture and Childhood at the University of Sheffield. Her research and teaching focus on discourses and histories of childhood, play and education, and on the co-construction of environments for children’s play and creative engagement. She is interested in children’s creative and digital literacies and the inter-generational co-construction of play and storytelling. Yinka is Director of the British Academy Research Project ‘Childhoods and Play: The Iona and Peter Opie Archive’. She is also a Co-Investigator on the ESRC funded project ‘A National Observatory of Children’s Play Experiences During COVID-19’. Known as the ‘Play Observatory’, this project is currently conducting a national survey of children’s play during the pandemic.

(for Dr. Bannister’s biography, see under her own name).

Maria Ines Palleiro (Buenos Aires University/ National Council for Scientific Research, Argentina)
Felicitas Guerrero and Other Femicides: History and Legend in Pandemic Times.

In this presentation, we deal with folklore genres such as the legend in pandemic times. We analyze the folklorization of the tragic history of Felicitas Guerrero, an Argentinian woman murdered by her lover in the 19th century. The legend refers to the ghostly appearance of Felicitas in the tower of the church built by her family, which is part of the cultural heritage of Buenos Aires. A visit to this church is currently included in the tourist trail, in which tourist guides narrate the legend. In Covid times, virtual tours replaced these face-to-face visits. Within one of these virtual tours, the tourist guide underlined the impact of this legend during the lockdown in which a tragic murde took place, similar to the murder of Felicitas. A woman named Silvia Saravia was murdered by her husband Jorge Neuss, who then committed suicide. In the context of the pandemic, we analyze the resignification of this legend rooted in local history, in which confinement increased these cases of gender violence, considering that anyone could be a victim.

Maria Ines Palleiro is currently Professor of the Postgraduate Seminar: ‘Orality and Discourse Analysis’ at Buenos Aires University, and full professor of Methodology of Folklore Research at the National University of Arts, Buenos Aires. Visiting Professor at 3Salerno University (Italy) and Ljubljana University (Slovenia), lecturer and visiting researcher at Tartu University (Estonia) and at the Ethnology Institute of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts. Senior researcher in Folk Narrative at the National Scientific and Technical Research Council, Argentina and Vice President for Latin America of the International Society for Folk Narrative Research (ISFNR). Author of more than 200 chapters of books, proceedings and articles in indexed publications, and of 20 books dealing with her research áreas: Folk Narrative, Social Beliefs and Discourse Analysis. Coeditor of Acta Ethnographica Hungarica. An International Journal of Sociocultural Anthropology (2019).

Maria Eugenia Peltzer (La Plata University, Argentina)
Felicitas Guerrero and Other Femicides: History and Legend in Pandemic Times.

(for the abstract of the presentation, see Maria Ines Palleiro)

Professor Martha Radice (Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia, Canada)
Re-creating carnival in New Orleans during the COVID-19 pandemic

Carnival season in New Orleans fuels a sustained outpouring of creativity each year as people make costumes, floats, and throws (small gifts thrown to spectators) for the parades and parties that culminate in Mardi Gras day. With the 2021 parades cancelled, New Orleanians set about re-imagining carnival for pandemic times. While individuals planned extra-wide costumes with protective masks, carnival clubs (‘krewes’) proposed safely distanced alternatives to parades, from drive-by tableaux vivants to scavenger hunts. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork conducted over six carnival seasons, I analyze the continuities and ruptures of carnival practices in 2021. I focus on the Krewe of House Floats, a joke that accidentally inspired thousands of households to decorate their homes as parade floats. Like regular carnival, the house floats reflected differential access to resources, materials, and know-how. Unlike regular carnival, they featured less satire, often paying tribute to cultural icons of the city. They also re-situated carnival in domestic and neighbourhood space and sociality, temporarily reversing a trend toward centralization. Because carnival is re-made every year through improvisation and responsiveness to current events, resourcefulness is built into its social structure. I argue that this is what enabled its creative reconfiguration.

Martha Radice is a social anthropologist whose work focuses on the social, spatial and cultural dynamics of cities. Her current research explores the practices of new-wave carnival culture in New Orleans as they relate to sociability, material culture, urban space, and race. It has been funded by a New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation Archive Fellowship and an Insight Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Her most recent article, published in Anthropologica, discusses how new-wave carnival clubs or ‘krewes’ responded to the COVID-19 pandemic in its first few months.

Dr Radice’s broader areas of interest are urban anthropology, neighbourhood change, public space, public art and public culture, multiculturalism and cosmopolitanism, and applied urban research. Her previous interdisciplinary research-creation project with colleagues at NSCAD University (Halifax, Nova Scotia) explored how art shapes the urban public and, conversely, how the urban public can shape artistic production. This resulted in the book Urban Encounters: Art and the Public, co-edited with Alexandrine Boudreault-Fournier (University of Victoria).

Dr Radice is Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology at Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia (Canada). She holds a PhD in Urban Studies from the Institut national de la recherche scientifique (Montréal) and an MA in Anthropology from Université Laval (Québec). She completed undergraduate degrees in Linguistics at the University of Sussex (UK) and Ethnology at the Université de la Réunion (France).

Dr Radice is a past president of the Canadian Anthropology Society and was Co-Chair of the first joint conference of the Canadian Anthropology Society and the American Anthropological Association in Vancouver, November 2019.

Andrew Robison (Sheffield Hallam University, UK)
‘Tomorrow will be a better day’: Vernacular Rainbow Displays during the COVID-19 Lockdown in Britain’.

The first UK lockdown of the COVID-19 pandemic during the Spring of 2020 resulted in numerous communal and individual creative interventions and responses, that were widely shared and often copied in both the physical and online worlds. Many of these activities developed spontaneously as new customs and rituals often borrowing for those observed in countries which had entered lockdown earlier, from the communal clapping on Thursday evenings, to the display of teddy bears in front windows, along with scarecrows, curb side gifts, competitive mooing, and the omnipresent display of rainbows. At the same time online communities circulated related drawings, videos and memes extending the reach of these responses and at the same time prompting and provoking others.

Profusely illustrated with images from the author’s extensive collection of photographs this paper will examine the origins and development of U.K. rainbow displays in both online and physical worlds and explore their role as a vehicle for expressions of solidarity with the NHS and the evoking of a ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ Blitz spirt as exemplified by Captain Tom Moore. The cultural significance of such displays was recognised by HM The Queen in her March 2020 broadcast when she referred to the need for the country to pull together, suggesting that such new traditions and customs were an expression of ‘our national spirit’ that will help to define the country’s future.

Andrew Robinson is a photographer, artist and Senior Lecturer in Photography at Sheffield Hallam University, where he co-founded the Centre for Contemporary Legend with Dr David Clarke and Diane Rodgers. His practice investigates notions of identity and vernacular culture through a visual anthropology of people, place, and trace applying creative strategies that integrate still and moving imagery along with text, audio, and found materials. Andrew’s work has been published and exhibited widely and he has undertaken art commissions and residences in a range of contexts including art, education, health and social research. During the 1990s he undertook a six year photographic survey of English calendar customs entitled ‘Another England’ inspired in part, by the work of Sir Benjamin Stone and Homer Sykes.

Diane A. Rodgers (Sheffield Hallam University, UK)
Creative Covid Customs and Folklore in Contemporary Film and Television

Ex-British Secretary of State for Health Matt Hancock revealed in Feb 2021 that his strategy for the UK’s coronavirus vaccination programme was partly shaped by the Hollywood film Contagion (2011). It is interesting, therefore, to examine how the COVID-19 pandemic has influenced our rituals and how they are creatively reflected in film and television.

Video calls (with their own customs) have become embedded into everyday life: folklorist Jeff Tolbert states that “normal stuff you do in your daily life, structured by tradition but subject to change, can be seen as folklore” (2020). For example, the traditional funeral service is presented in an episode of the television series Social Distance (2020) as a tragi-comic look at a family’s online memorial service. Prolific memes about online video-conferencing liken the practice to a séance-like ritual, with participants of sessions often faced with black screens, prompting the question “is anybody there?”, dealt with directly by the inventive Zoom-based 2020 British horror film Host. Both examples were created within (and reflect onscreen) lockdown conditions.

It is important for folklore scholarship to observe and reflect not only upon why we do things and how we do them, but also our media usage in relation to folklore and tradition, and how this, in turn, shapes the narratives, practices and rituals that surround our lives.

Diane A. Rodgers is Senior Lecturer in Media, Arts and Communications and a founder member of the Centre for Contemporary Legend Research Group at Sheffield Hallam University in the UK. She specialises in teaching alternative media (including cult TV, films, music and comics), and storytelling in film and television, including textual analysis and folklore. Diane is currently conducting PhD research in 1970s British Film and Television folk-horror and hauntology.

Rahul Rose (London School of Economics, UK)
Coronavirus as Goddess: Fake News or Form of Empowerment?

Based on fieldwork and interviews in northern India, this paper examines various creative and often idiosyncratic attempts to cast coronavirus as a supernatural entity, whether a powerful female deity or the wondering soul of a tortured Chinese woman. The paper considers how these interpretations of coronavirus wrest the disease from unfamiliar and disorientating nationalist scientific discourse, making often disempowered north Indian women a locus of agency who are able to protect their relatives and fellow villagers through worship and ritual knowledge.

Particular attention will be given to a new goddess Corona Mai who has struggled to emerge over the course of the pandemic from a panoply of existing religious traditions – such as planetary worship – that are normally turned to in times of strife. The goddess’s tentative and ambiguous identity within the lore of north Indian villages is contrasted with her fully fleshed and sensationalist representation on social media and in Indian newspapers where she has become a symbol of credulity, irrationality and fake news. The paper examines why, despite a longstanding and largely uncontroversial tradition of disease goddess worship in popular Hinduism, Corona Mai has for urban middle class Indians become a site of anxiety.

Rahul Rose is an ESRC-funded anthropology PhD candidate at the London School of Economics. His doctoral research investigates the intertwined history of ‘attention’ in India and the UK, exploring its shifting conceptualisation as a psychological site of spiritual self-transformation and a locus for anxieties about technology and free will. Through comparative fieldwork in Varanasi northern India and London, he is also mapping how differing metaphors, ideas and habitual practices of ‘attention’ are productive of divergent understandings of the self. Separately, over the course of the pandemic, Rahul has carried out fieldwork investigating how coronavirus is being conceptualised in northern India through Ayurvedic physiology as well as beliefs about goddesses and unruly spirits.

James F. Rosie (Royal Anthropological Institute)
Oral Traditions of the Global Village: New Expressions of Creativity and Community

During the COVID pandemic, significant numbers of people have had their everyday lives disrupted, which saw increasing numbers of people resorting to online platforms in order to meet their social needs. However, at the same time there has been an increase in reporting of ‘conspiracy theories’, ‘fake news’, and ‘disinformation’. Many commentators frame these as malicious, if not hostile, acts and even the UK government considers it as an ‘online harm’ (DCMS Online Harms Consultation). However this paper considers what new understanding we could gain if we viewed these narratives as an act of creative collaboration. Rather than a means simply to share experiences and stories within the context of the uncertainty of COVID-19, these narratives provide people a method to come together and as a virtual community, to create and impose a sense of order and meaning on the chaos of their situation.

This paper will provide an examination and discussion of both the form and function of traditional folktales in comparison with narratives such as ‘QAnon’ and ‘Anti-Vaxx’. This talk posits that these narratives are a continuation of the oral tradition within the context of online communities, or McLuhan’s idea of the ‘Global Village’

James Rosie is a UK Government social scientist, where he has worked across a wide range of topic areas. A key part of his current role is helping policy makers understand the context of longer-term futures, in order to guide and inform current decision-making. He has been involved in a broad variety of research areas, in varying capacities including technical leadership, project review and scientific advisor. Most significant of which was his role of Social Sciences Advisor within Southern Afghanistan, for which he was honoured with a MBE.

Mónica Jaramillo Sanjuán
Onscreen Dance: Ongoing Response to COVID-19 Pandemic.

For better or worse, onscreen dancing had its boom because of Covid-19 Pandemic. Social media became the scenario par excellence to share dance-films. For a while, this overwhelming exchange of dance became exciting, captivating; geographical borders and time zones were not an issue anymore, recorded sessions allowed us to repeat infinite times the steps we wanted to learn, performances were enjoyed in the comfort of our own beds, and all of this, most of the times, was offered for free. But the pandemic did not stop; neither did the massive production of onscreen dance. And, after one year and a half of this new habit, it seems just right to inquire how the experience of producing and consuming dance is being affected.

Taking as reference three choreographic pieces developed in Colombia during the first year of Pandemic, this paper explores how isolation, the closure of venues and the transition from live to online platforms, impacted the experience of being performers, audience and other agents in the cultural industry. There is still a long way for final conclusions, yet the dialogue with these pieces and the people involved with them, will provide a better understanding of the relation between dance and Covid-19 pandemic.

Sarah Sprules (University of Wales, Trinity St. Davids, UK)
The Role of the Internet in Modern Folklore: Communal Heritage and Social Identity.

In times past folklore stories would have passed slowly from one generation to the next and remained in specific areas for the most part. However, the explosion of the internet and mobile devices particularly in lockdown, has led people to find digital communities which are dispersed internationally across the world. Those with specific interests in esoteric subjects such as Bigfoot or paranormal events are now able to find each other online and upload and share images with billions of people instantly. The way in which we now communicate and share our stories has changed due to social distancing and digital availability which means we are losing geographical specific histories and are also more vulnerable to fake news through digital hoaxes. Books and films or TV series such as Game of Thrones and Harry Potter and even online competition entries have fuelled the collective consciousness with images and stories of folklore legends which have given rise to claims of recent sightings of sometimes wholly fictional characters created by authors. Current folklore is now immediate, fast spreading and intercultural, diluting specific cultural and geographical traditions.

Sarah Sprules received the BSc in Child and Adolescent Mental Health (2.1) from the University of Worcester in 2019. She is currently studying for an MA in Medieval Studies at the University of Wales, Trinity St David. Her research interests include women of the medieval era (with a view to enabling their voices to be heard), William Marshal, the Welsh Marches, myths and legends, and medieval royalty.

George Tserpes (National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece)
‘A Pandemic of Proverbs’ – Political Humour and Narrative Cultures during the COVID Lockdown.

(for the text of the presentation, see Marianthi Kaplanoglou).

George Tserpes holds a PhD in Comparative Paremiology from the University of Athens (Department of Philology). From the same University, he holds two master degrees, one in Folkloristics and one in Teaching Modern Greek as a foreign language. Dr. Tserpes is interested in Comparative Folkloristics with an emphasis on proverbs from the Balkan Peninsula. He is working currently as a teacher of Greek language and literature (ancient and modern) in Greek secondary education. He is a member of the Greek Folklore Society and of the International Association of Paremiology.