“Rethinking Popular Cultures”
The MLCP 2013 Spring Institute
May 10-11, 2013
Friday-Folklore Building, 510 N. Fess Ave.
Saturday-Folklore Seminar Room, 501 N. Park Ave.
The Minority Languages and Cultures Project (MLCP) was pleased to host its Spring Institute “Rethinking Popular Cultures” on Friday and Saturday, May 10-11, 2013, in Bloomington, Indiana. The purpose of the Institute was to bring together faculty from colleges and universities around the state of Indiana to share ideas and practices related to doing research on and teaching about minority languages and cultures in Latin America. This year’s theme asked participants to reexamine notions of popular culture and the spaces of overlap with indigenous, minority, and elite cultures.
The Institute featured presenters from Purdue, IUPUI, Franklin College, IPFW, Ball State, IU Northwest, Butler, University of Southern Indiana, and IU South Bend and discussants from IUB. The disciplinary homes were likewise quite diverse, including Spanish, Anthropology, English, American Studies, History, Folklore and Ethnomusicology, and Modern Languages. This variety was reflected in the four panels: “Movement, Sex, and Rights,” “Elite and Folk Ideas of Country and Nature,” “Popular Languages,” and “Race and Nation.” Finally, the Institute featured a keynote address by IUB Professor of Folklore and Ethnomusicology, John McDowell, entitled: “The Promise (and Pitfalls) of Expressive Culture on YouTube.”
Within this diversity of topics and disciplines, interesting trends emerged regarding popular, folk, and elite cultures, media use and communication, contested spaces, and dynamics of inclusion versus exclusion. Several presenters discussed minority groups using various forms of media, such as graphic novels, hop-hop, social media, and literature to contest dominant ideologies. Likewise, other presenters focused on how important texts, scientific discourse, and archeological records have been foundational in shaping national imaginaries. Finally, other presenters asked us to reexamine the human-environment separation that has been constitutive of science and to perhaps consider the generative properties of violence in creating new forms of humanitarianism.
The two day conference was a tremendous success in bringing together Latin Americanists from across Indiana and provided an excellent opportunity to build connections across disciplinary and institutional divides and for junior faculty members to present their research and to network with other faculty working with minority languages and cultures. The Institute was made possible thanks to sponsorship from the School of Global and International Studies, Associate Dean for International Programs, Maria Bucur-Deckard, the Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology, and the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies. Additional thanks are owed to everyone at CLACS for their invaluable support and planning with all aspects of the conference. Finally, hearty thanks are owed to the MLCP Faculty Coordinator, Jason McGraw, for all his hard work planning the conference and for an excellent and productive first year at the MLCP helm.
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