About2022 Election

Jerrilyn M. McGregory

Jerrilyn McGregory headshot

Jerrilyn M. McGregory is a professor in folklore in the Department of English, Florida State University. Her career began working for the Philadelphia Folklore Project (PFP) during graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania, where she obtained a PhD in Folklore and Folklife. Auspiciously, in 1989, AFS intended to meet there to celebrate its first century. While ABD, she was offered a tenure-track job at the University of Georgia. Soon thereafter, Wiregrass Country beckoned her to conduct ethnographic research in a little known region of the South, and Florida State University was close by. She has since published three monographs. One Grand Noise: Boxing Day in the Anglicized Caribbean World won the 2022 Chicago Prize in folklore. She has served as president of the Florida Folklore Society and chaired the Florida Folklife Council as well as the AFS Cultural Diversity Committee.

What are the most significant opportunities or challenges now facing AFS, and how as a member of the Executive Board would you respond to those opportunities or challenges?

As a member of the Executive Board, I will be significantly interested in representing new opportunities within the discipline, the Society, and future conferences. In 2016, I organized three panels comprising African American graduate students along with scholars outside our network. As a member of the Miami Local Arrangements committee, for logistical purposes, I requested these sessions be arranged in the same room and back-to-back. I also suggest a similar outreach, to encourage sustainable membership by people of color who engage in research and/or publish in under representative areas such as disabilities studies and sexualities studies.

Furthermore, regarding diversity, it is never too late to consider tracking AFS goals to promote overall equity. The Cultural Diversity Committee has existed a long time and, by all appearances, representation for the Society is much improved. However, I advocate the use of Diversity Scorecards to track diversity initiatives inclusive of all identities. Given present-day polarization, it might be good to determine whether there are overarching goals yet to be met such as retention and the establishment of new goals (if need be). Diversity Scorecards are a powerful tool for assessing AFS as a culture; and through action and purposeful longevity, they measure results. Institutional change may be called for, relative to institutional proclivities that speak to the organizational ecology and the possible risk of mortality. AFS began to protect folk cultures and may want to make moves that ensure its own longevity.