Semontee Mitra is a Lecturer of English and American Studies at the Pennsylvania State University, Harrisburg, where she received her Ph.D. She is an Associate Editor of Cultural Analysis, an interdisciplinary journal investigating expressive and everyday culture. She has served as the co-convener of the Transnational Asia/Pacific Section of the American Folklore Society. She has published articles in the International Journal of Indic Religions, Journal of Media and Religion, Puralokbarta, and Children’s Folklore Review. Her current research focuses on Asian American life and culture, religion and festivals, folk traditions and folk narratives, popular culture, transnationalism, gender, and race and diversity in America.
What is the future you wish for AFS and how as a member of the Executive Board would you work toward this future?
An admirable goal of the American Folklore Society is growing the international professional network of folklorists, which I propose to advance as an Executive Board member. During my association with AFS, I have realized that our engagement has primarily been in North America and Europe. As a Board Member, I would work to engage folklorists from Asian, African, and Latin American countries to the Society. I would be able to connect with my personal and global networks to facilitate greater visibility for AFS abroad. I would also take advantage of the networks of our AFS members to reach out to folklore programs and folklorists in those countries. We would contact editors of regional and national journals and provide them with incentives to join AFS.
Another area of engagement for AFS would be acting as a liaison between folklore jobs providers and new/recent folklore graduates. AFS already features job postings, but more emphasis should be put on this issue with a proactive approach. I would strategically leverage AFS’s new job posting tool for field growth, retention of folklorists in the profession, and expansion of the employment opportunities of recent graduates. We need new people, new ideas, and new thoughts to create a more inclusive Society that recruits and welcomes global folklorists. I believe if we work together, we can have a strategy to address these mission-critical issues.