Our CommunitySections

Folk Belief and Religious Folklife

The Folk Belief and Religious Folklife Section of the American Folklore Society sponsors the annual Don Yoder Lecture in Religious Folklife delivered by a distinguished specialist, as well as forums, panels and activities at the AFS annual meeting. The section also sponsors a number of prizes and stipends to advance research and participation in this area.

The section conveners are Margaret Kruesi, Andrea Kitta, Lynne McNeill and Tom Mould. Contact them at [email protected]


To encourage student scholars, the Section sponsors the Don Yoder Prize for the Best Graduate Student Paper in Folk Belief or Religious Folklife, the William A. Wilson Prize for the Best Undergraduate Student Paper in Folk Belief and Religious Folklife, and the Elaine J. Lawless Graduate Student Travel Award

Starting in 2023, the Leonard Norman Primiano Fund supports three new prizes to support scholars in folk belief and religious folklife at every career stage:

Don Yoder Lecture in Religious Folklife

Sponsored by the Folk Belief and Religious Folklife Section

2021-present: Margaret Kruesi (American Folklife Center), chair

2003-2020: Leonard Norman Primiano (Cabrini University) and Margaret Kruesi (American Folklife Center), co-chairs


Andrea Kitta (East Carolina University)

How to have Theory in a Pandemic: Precarity, Autoethnography, and Belief Scholarship during COVID


Kay Turner (New York University)

The Virgin Mary’s Body: Immaculate Rejection

Norma E. Cantú (Trinity University), discussant




David Hufford (Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, emeritus)

Sleeping Reason Dreams of Disenchantment, but…: A Study of the Extraordinary Spiritual Experiences among Combat Veterans

Bonnie B. O’Connor (Alpert Medical School, Brown University, emerita), discussant


Michael Owen Jones (University of California, Los Angeles, emeritus)

Herbs and Saints in the City of Angels: Researching Botánicas, Healing, and Power in Southern California

Holly Everett (Memorial University of Newfoundland), discussant


Jeff Todd Titon (Brown University, emeritus)

Eco-Justice and Folklife

Mary Hufford (Livelihoods Knowledge Exchange Network [LiKEN]) and

Rory Turner (Goucher College), discussants


Dan Ben-Amos (University of Pennsylvania)

Kol Nidre, The Prayer that Haunted the Rabbis and Charmed their Folks

Simon J. Bronner (Penn State Harrisburg), discussant


Erika Brady (Western Kentucky University)–“A Subtle Thing Withal”: Reflections on the Ineffable, the

Unspeakable, and the Risible in Vernacular Religion 

Sabina Magliocco (California State University, Northridge), discussant


Henry Glassie (Indiana University, emeritus)

Text and Icon in Religious Art

Leonard Norman Primiano (Cabrini College), discussant


Don Yoder (University of Pennsylvania, emeritus)

Religion and Folk Art: Reflections on Key Concepts in Folklife Studies

Gerald L. Pocius (Memorial University of Newfoundland), discussant


Donald Cosentino (University of California, Los Angeles)

Why Did Gede Let This Happen?: Catastrophe and Theodicy in

21st-Century Haitian Vodou

Glenn Hinson (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill) and

Kerry Noonan (Champlain College), discussants


William A. (Bert) Wilson (Brigham Young University, retired)

Mormon Folklore: Mormon Folk Religion, or Mormon Vernacular Religion, or

Mormon Religious Folklore? And Who are the Mormons Anyway, and

Do They Have Any Uniquely Identifiable Mormon Folklore?

David J. Hufford (Pennsylvania State University) and

Tom Mould (Elon University), discussants


Elaine J. Lawless (University of Missouri)

What Zora Knew: A Crossroads, a Bargain with the Devil, and a Late Witness

Marilyn M. White (Kean University) and

David Todd Lawrence (University of St. Thomas), discussants


William Westerman (Princeton University)

Epistemology of the Flail and the Politics of Inductive Reasoning


Diane Goldstein (Memorial University of Newfoundland)

Kaleidoscopes, Methodological Play, and the Intrinsic Politics of Belief Scholarship

William Westerman (Princeton University), discussant


Sandra Zimdars-Swartz (University of Kansas)

Perceiving the Sacred: Visionaries, Hagiographers, and Portrayals of Religious


Erika Brady (Western Kentucky University), discussant


Don Yoder (University of Pennsylvania, emeritus)

Folk Religion and the Pennsylvania German Broadside

Gerald L. Pocius (Memorial University of Newfoundland), discussant


Gary Laderman (Emory University)

The Cult of Doctors: Harvey Cushing and the Religious Culture of Biomedicine

David J. Hufford (Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine), discussant


Marion Bowman (The Folklore Society; The Open University)

Sacred Spaces in Liminal Places: Airport Chapels and Religion in Transit

Kimberly J. Lau (University of Utah) and

Teri F. Brewer (University of Glamorgan), discussants


David J. Hufford (Pennsylvania State University)

Folklife and the Triumph of Folk Medicine

Get Involved

Sign in to the AFS Member Portal to join the section and ensure you’re receiving section communications. All of your section involvement can be managed under My Info.

Click here to pay section dues ($10).

Back to Sections