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Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage (CFCH)

Richard Kurin, Acting Director & Smithsonian Distinguished Scholar and Ambassador-at-Large

Rooted in principles of cultural democracy and social equality, the Smithsonian. The Center’s projects have received scholarly, public, and critical acclaim; its work on issues and methods of cultural representation has provided models for other organizations and activities in the U.S. and internationally.

The Center’s projects have received scholarly, public, and critical acclaim; its work on issues and methods of cultural representation has provided models for other organizations and activities in the U.S. and internationally.

Smithsonian Folklife Festival, inaugurated in 1967, honors people from across the United States and around the world. The Festival unites presenters and performers in the nation’s capital to celebrate the diversity of cultural traditions. It has brought more than 23,000 musicians, artists, performers, craftspeople, workers, cooks and storytellers from more than 90 nations and the United States to the nation’s capital to demonstrate their skills, artistry, knowledge and wisdom.

Smithsonian Folkways is the nonprofit record label of the Smithsonian Institution that aims to document community-based music and to preserve historical recordings of both music and the spoken word. It produces about 12 new recordings annually, some from the archives, and others from contemporary documentation and recording projects. Included in the more than 3,000 albums are the recordings of Woody Guthrie, Lead Belly, Bill Monroe and Doc Watson; civil rights movement songs and speeches; the poetry of Langston Hughes; historical Native American traditions; varied regional and immigrant songs; and music and spoken word traditions from across the globe.

Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections; contain an extensive; collection that documents American and world traditions in research notes, videos, CDs, audio tapes and still images. Particularly strong are collections of traditional music, occupational folklore, narrative, immigration and family folklore. American regional and ethnic cultures—Native American, African American and Latino culture—are well-represented. The archives document the Center’s work on the Smithsonian Folklife Festival and Smithsonian Folkways, and also contain the recordings, photographs, papers, and objects related to several historical record labels.

Opportunities for scholars include studies of cultural representation and cultural sustainability, collaborative research in specific areas of staff or programmatic interest, internships, and projects involving archival materials./p>

Websites: www.folklife.si.edu  www.festival.si.edu   www.folkways.si.edu

Research Staff

Adams, Greg.  Processing Archivist. B.A. (2001) Youngstown State University; M.A. (2004 and 2012) University of Maryland. Research specialties: Music history, library and information sciences, ethnomusicology, multicultural history of the banjo. Contact: AdamsG@si.edu

Belanus, Betty, Folklorist, Curator, Education Specialist. B.A. (1977) Smith College; M.A. (1980), Ph.D. (1990) Indiana University. Research specialties: Material culture, folklore and education, public programming. Contact: BelanusB@si.edu

Butvin, Halle, Head of Special Projects. M.A., Ohio State University. Research specialties: City and regional planning, cultural sustainability, elevation of cultural practices to improve local economies. Contact: ButvinHM@si.edu

Cordova, Amalia. Latino Digital Curator of New and Emerging Media. B.A. (1996) Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile; M.A. (2007), Ph.D. (2015) New York University. Research specialties: Indigenous, intercultural, and community media; digital media and performance; Afro-Brazilian expressive culture. Contact: Cordovaa@si.edu

Deutsch, James I., Curator. B.A. (1970) Williams College; M.A. (1976) University of Minnesota; M.Ln. (1979) Emory University; Ph.D. (1991) George Washington University. Research specialties: Occupational folklife, veterans of World War II, American film and mass media. Contact: DeutschJ@si.edu

Diaz-Carrera, CristinaCurator. B.A. (2004) Barnard College, Columbia University; M.A. (2011) New York University.  Research specialties:  Caribbean/Latin American studies, Latino music, cultural representation. Contact: Diaz-CarreraC@si.edu

Holmgren, MeredithResearcher, Project Manager, Education Specialist, Web Producer. B.A. (2005) University of California, Los Angeles; PGCert. (2009) University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa/East West Center; M.A. (2011) Leiden; M.Phil. (2012) Leiden. Research specialties: Cultural heritage studies, ethnomusicology, Asian studies, cultural policy, Indonesian performing arts, education, development studies, international relations. Contact: HolmgrenM@si.edu

Hunt, Marjorie, Folklorist, Curator, Education Specialist. B.A. (1976) Simmons College; M.A. (1981), Ph.D. (1995) University of Pennsylvania. Research specialties: American folklife, material culture, building arts, occupational folklife, Italian-American folklore, culture and aging, oral history, cultural and linguistic sustainability, public programming. Contact: Marjorie@si.edu

Kim, Sojin, Curator. B.A. (1988) Brown University; M.A. (1991), Ph.D. (1998) University of California, Los Angeles. Research specialties: Asian American history and culture, Los Angeles history and culture, urban history, public history, vernacular landscape. Contact: KimSO@si.edu

Leopold, Robert, Deputy Director. B.A. (1979) State University of New York at Binghamton; M.A. (1983), Ph.D. (1991) Indiana University. Research specialties: Ethnographic and Indigenous archives, information ethics, language revitalization, indigenous knowledge systems, knowledge repatriation, Africa. Contact: Leopold@si.edu

Linn, Mary S., Curator of Cultural and Linguistic Revitalization. B.A. (1985) Wichita State University; M.A. (1996) University of Kansas; Ph.D. (2001) University of Kansas. Research specialties: Language documentation and description, language revitalization, youth motivation in language vitality, language and cultural diversity especially in Oklahoma and American Southeast, community-based endangered languages archives, language policy. Contact: LinnM@si.edu

Motley, Sabrina Lynn, Director, Smithsonian Folklife Festival. B.A. (1989), M.A. (1993), A.B.D. University of California, Los Angeles. Research specialties: Cultural anthropology, cultural heritage presentation and representation, cultural performance and social activism, museum programming and public engagement. Contact: MotleyS@si.edu

N’Diaye, Diana Baird, Folklorist, Curator. B.A. (1973) New York University; M.A. (1979) State University of New York, Stony Brook; Ph.D. (1997) Union Institute. Research specialties: Africa and African Diaspora studies, immigrant and transnational culture and ethnicity, ethno-aesthetics, participatory research, cultural representation and cultural policy, culture and disability, multicultural education/social contexts. Contact: NDiaye@si.edu

Place, Jeffrey, Curator, Archivist. B.A. (1978) Kenyon College; M.L.S. (1987) University of Maryland. Research specialties: Sound archives, archives, traditional music of the United States, Woody Guthrie, Lead Belly, record production, history of sound recordings. Contact: PlaceJ1@si.edu

Smith, Stephanie, Director, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections. B.A. (1971) University of California, Santa Barbara; M.Litt (1975) University of Edinburgh; M.S.L.S. (1977) University of North Carolina; Ph.D. (1988) University of Edinburgh. Research specialties: English country dance in the U.S., Scottish traditional song and the Folk Revival, comparative British and Appalachian folksong traditions. Contact: smithsdl@si.edu

Sonneborn, (Daniel) Atesh, Associate Director, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. B.A. (1982) University of California, Santa Cruz; M.A. (1984) University of California, San Diego; Ph.D. (1995) University of California, Los Angeles. Research specialties: music in Islamic cultures, applied ethnomusicology, intellectual property rights in tangible and intangible cultural heritage. Contact: SonnebornA@si.edu

AFFILIATED RESEARCH STAFF

Cadaval, Olivia, Chair, Cultural Research and Education, Curator. B.A. (1972); Ph.D. (1989) George Washington University. Research specialties: Latin American and Latino studies, American cultural history, material culture, folklife. Contact: CadavalO@si.edu

Kurin, Richard, Distinguished Scholar and Ambassador-at-Large. B.A. (1972) State University of New York, Buffalo; M.A. (1974), Ph.D. (1981) University of Chicago. Research specialties: Indigenous knowledge systems, kinship, religion, ethnicity, cultural policy, cultural presentation and representation, the cultures of south Asia and the United States, Hope diamond cultural history. Contact: Kurin@si.edu

Seeger, Anthony, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings Curator and Director Emeritus. B.A. (1967) Harvard University; M.A. (1970), Ph.D. (1974) University of Chicago. Research specialties: Ethnomusicology, audiovisual archives, music industry, social organization, cosmology, ritual, oral narrative, South American Indians, Brazil.

Seitel, Peter, Senior Folklorist Emeritus. B.A. (1964), Ph.D. (1973) University of Pennsylvania. Research specialties: Occupational folklife, African folklife, epic, narrative, proverbs, computer applications in folklore, intangible cultural heritage policy. Contact: SeitelP@si.edu

Sheehy, Daniel E., Curator and Director Emeritus, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. Ph.D. (1979) University of California, Los Angeles. Research specialties: Public sector folklore and ethnomusicology, traditional music and museums, popular folk musics of Latin America, mariachi music in Mexico and the U.S. Contact: SheehyD@si.edu

Thurston, Timothy, Research Fellow. B.A (2005) Carleton College; MA (2007), Ph.D. (2015) The Ohio State University. Research specialties: Chinese, Tibetan, and Himalayan studies; oral traditions and verbal art; digital cultures; folklife. Contact: thurstont@si.edu

Younger, Erin, Research Associate. B.A. (1973) Scripps College, M.A. (1978) Arizona State University. Research specialties:  Native American and Pacific Rim material culture, contemporary Native American art, museum practice. Contact: YoungerE@si.edu

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