Folklore Studies Program Leads Anti-Racism Initiative in Folklore Studies

Folklore Studies Program Leads Anti-Racism Initiative in Folklore Studies

Mason’s folklore studies faculty announced major changes to the Journal of American Folklore at this year’s annual meeting of the American Folklore Society. Lisa Gilman, JAF Editor-in-chief, and associate editors, Benjamin Gatling, Debra Lattanzi Shutika, and Lijun Zhang, have committed to making JAF—the flagship journal of the American Folklore Society—more inclusive and actively publishing materials that  reflect the diversity of people and research in the field of folklore studies.

The Mason editorial team’s larger goal is to change the perception of the journal in the field. Key structural changes will allow for prioritizing scholarship that critically engages social issues around race, gender, sexuality, ability, religion, and citizenship, especially by people representing diverse positions. Editor-In-Chief, Gilman’s first task in taking over the journal was to put together a diverse editorial board. Gilman recognized that individuals are intimidated by the publishing process and do not always see themselves or their work in the journal.

Gilman and Tanya Boucicaut, a PhD student in Mason’s Writing and Rhetoric Program and JAF’s Editorial Assistant, will edit a special issue of the journal, “African American Expressive Culture and Protest, Imagination, and Dreams of Blackness.” A special issue “Latinx Folklore: Transnational WOC Feminist Perspectives” is in the pipeline. Gilman hopes that the changes in journal content and the inclusion of more diverse scholars will impact the field for years to come.

Mason folklore faculty’s efforts at dismantling institutionalized inequities parallel ongoing racial justice initiatives on Mason’s campus, such as President Washington’s task force on anti-racism and inclusive excellence. Mason’s JAFeditorial term runs until 2023. JAF editorship is made possible through the support of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

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