Uses of the Folk

CFP: special issue, 'Radical History Review'

Radical History Review Call for Submissions:
"The Uses of the Folk"
Call for Papers Date: 2001-06-15

Radical History Review announces a call for submissions to a thematic issue on "The Uses of the Folk." This issue will address historical processes (in all periods and across nations and cultures) in which "the folk" have been invoked or invented for broader political purposes. In some cases, groups have rallied around a "folk" or vernacular culture as a way of preserving a distinct identity in the face of encroaching commercial or imperial culture. In other cases, observers have used theories of folk culture to draw broad generalizations about racial or class capacity for civilization and citizenship. Increasingly, since the birth of the new social history, scholars have turned to folk artifacts for evidence of the culture and consciousness of people who left few written records. It is thus incumbent on historians to critically interrogate the category of "folk." We see these uses of "the folk" as interrelated sites of struggle, beginning with the questions: what has been described as folk culture and who has the power to define it? We are particularly interested in explorations of the opportunities and limitations that articulations of "folk" identity have presented to the "folk" themselves.

Radical History Review publishes material in a variety of forms. In addition to articles based on archival research, we encourage submissions to our various departments, including:

  • Historians at Work (reflective essays by historians working in academic and non-academic settings that engage with questions of professional practice)
  • Teaching Radical History (syllabi and commentary on teaching)
  • Public History (essays on the politics of the past in cultural production and in public settings)
  • Reflections (proposals for interviews with scholars, activists, and others)
  • (re)Views (review essays on history in all media--print, film, and digital)

Submissions in any of the above forms might address any of the following issues:

  • invocations of folk culture by political movements of indigenous and aboriginal peoples, or by right-wing or fascist political movements
  • the marketing of folk imagery and folk culture, including music, performance, material culture, and ethnic or heritage tourism
  • local, national, and global economies of folk revivals
  • "folk" and racial, ethnic, and class identities
  • the uses of the "folk" in imperialist projects
  • critical investigations of the relationship between folk and popular culture
  • the claiming and performance of folk culture as a resistant practice
  • the academic collection and uses of folk culture
  • the history of the concept of "the folk" within anthropology, history, folklore and other academic disciplines; how investigating concepts like "the politics of everyday life" is similar to or different from investigating "the folk"
  • self-commodification and the "mask" of "the folk"
  • gender and folk culture, including perceptions of folk culture as masculine or feminine; the association of folk culture with the supposedly non-commercial, community-based world; the ways in which folk culture is gendered in discourses about its distance from civilization and modernity
  • the uses of "the folk" in the creation of diasporic identities
  • how conceptions of "the folk" influence immigrant cultures and issues of assimilation and cultural preservation

Deadline: June 15, 2001

Please contact issue co-editors Karl Hagstrom Miller ( or Ellen Noonan ( if you have any questions. Submissions should be sent to Managing Editor, Radical History Review, Tamiment Library, 70 Washington Square South, New York, NY 10012.

Posted: 12 January 2001