AFS Women’s Section Awards 2020 and 2021 Elli Köngäs-Maranda Prizes

AFS News, Prizes
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The Women’s Section of the American Folklore Society has named Zahra Abedinezhadmehrabadi, Naomie Barnes, Ojaswini Hooda, Emilia Nielson, Rachel González-Martin, Noriko Tsunoda Reider, and Rachelle H. Saltzman as winners of the Elli Köngäs-Maranda Prizes for 2020 and 2021.

The section awards a student prize and a professional prize each year in honor of pioneering scholar Elli Köngäs-Maranda. The prizes recognize superior work on women’s traditional, vernacular, or local culture and/or feminist theory and folklore.

Zahra Abedinezhadmehrabadi, a doctoral student at the Ohio State University, won the 2020 Student Prize for “’I Choose the Styles Which Are Both Traditional and Artistic’: Iranian Women’s Ways of Dress,” a chapter of her MA thesis at Western Kentucky University. The award committee recognizes Abedinezhadmehrabadi’s essay as “a thoughtful examination of resistance to patriarchy in material culture and gesture that applies feminist theory and adds to our knowledge of ethnographic practices.”

The co-recipients of the 2021 Student Prize were Naomie Barnes, a doctoral candidate at Memorial University, St. John’s, Newfoundland, and Ojaswini Hooda, a PhD research scholar at the Department of Modern Indian Languages and Literary Studies at the University of Delhi.

Barnes won the prize for her essay “Feminist Influences in Folkloristics: Past Contributions and Future Endeavors.” The award committee praises Barnes’s essay as “an excellent review of how feminism has not been an influence in folkloristics,” noting that “it is thoroughly researched and includes a thoughtful analysis of both past scholarship and strategies for the future.”

Hooda won the prize for her article “Performing the ‘Maternal’ Body: Unearthing Desire and Sexuality in the Folksongs of the New Mother,” published in Sanglap: Journal of Literary and Cultural Inquiry. The award committee commends Hooda for “drawing on detailed ethnographic study and a sophisticated grasp of feminist theory to contest the claim that the maternal body is inevitably a site of the reproduction of patriarchal power.”

The co-recipients of the 2020 Professional Prize were Emilia Nielson, Assistant Professor in the Department of Social Science at York University, Toronto, Ontario, and Rachel González-Martin, Associate Professor in the Department of Mexican American and Latino/a Studies at the University of Texas at Austin.

Nielsen won the prize for her book Disrupting Breast Cancer Narratives: Stories of Rage and Repair, published by the University of Toronto Press. The award committee recognizes Nielsen’s book as “a thoughtful analysis of narratives from key feminist writers along with examples from popular culture that counter the patriarchal and often unhelpful treatment and expectations of patients dealing with breast cancer.” They note that she also “provides information on resources beyond the cheerful pink ribbon that greets patients dealing with pain, trauma, and post treatment issues often ignored in popular culture.”

González-Martin won the prize for her book Quinceañera Style: Social Belonging and Latinx Consumer Identities. The committee “was impressed with the ethnographic depth of Quinceañera Style and the distinct approach that González-Martin used to document the performative nature of quinceañera traditions, not just with families, with the craftspeople and merchants who work with families to prepare for these celebrations.”

The 2021 Professional Prize was awarded to Noriko Tsunoda Reider, Professor of Japanese in the Department of German, Russian, Asian, and Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures (GRAMELAC) at Miami University of Ohio, and Rachelle H. Saltzman, Lecturer, Folklore and Public Culture, University of Oregon; Folklore Specialist, Oregon Folklife Network, University of Oregon Museum of Natural and Cultural History; and Folklorist, High Desert Museum.

Reider won for her book Mountain Witches: Yamauba. The committee writes, “Mountain Witches examines this traditional Japanese supernatural figure in all of her glorious historical, cultural, and contemporary contexts. Reider’s meticulous scholarship sheds light on the various ways in which the ambivalent Yamauba represents ideas of childbirth, aging, cannibalism, weaving, dementia, abandonment, and fortune-telling, to name a few. It is a must-read for anyone interested in folkloristic articulations of feminine principles.”

Saltzman won for the edited volume, Pussy Hats, Politics, and Public Protest. The committee praised Pussy Hats as “an ethnographically rich documentation of reactions against the election of President Trump and an exploration of the power of feminist critique and the festive protest mounted by women and allies.”

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