There are many ways to be a folklorist, and many job titles that a person working as a folklorist might inhabit: curator, scholar, public servant, blogger, ethnographer, artist, student, teacher, archivist, practitioner, and more. Folklorists are united in our focus on everyday people and the ways that creativity and innovation emerge within traditional practices, arts, and beliefs. This unique area of expertise is currently gaining traction and appreciation in a wide variety of arenas, from popular and social media to politics and current events. It is imperative that all of us as folklorists be prepared to meet this growing interest with a solid understanding of how best to promote and advocate for ourselves, our work, and our field. This is an opportunity that we cannot afford to miss.

Defining Advocacy

We recognize advocacy as “a wide range of activities conducted to influence decision makers at various levels,” including “not only traditional advocacy work like litigation, lobbying, and public education, but also capacity building, network formation, relationship building, communication, and leadership development.”

Read more: Pathfinder, A Practical Guide to Advocacy Evaluation

How can we advocate?

  • A state folk arts specialist asks constituents to help advocate for state funding for the arts by writing letters of support
  • A group of public folklorists advocate for an increase to funding for the Folk Arts Program at the NEA
  • A newly minted PhD starts a blog highlighting segments of his dissertation fieldwork and commenting on the work of conducting an ethnography in one’s own family
  • A group of community artists attend a city council meeting to request permission to install a mural downtown
  • A group of folklore students produce a series of fun, educational videos to teach others about how their field of study can inform other majors
  • The curator of a local museum designs a series of posters to promote a new exhibit to their community
  • A group of professional folklorists takes a stand on a current cultural issue
  • An associate professor petitions the Dean of her college for funding to recruit and support graduate students from out of state
A group of people at a table constructing decorative items with paper
Mano a Mano: Mexican Culture Without Borders, Zafiro Acevedo leads a piñata-making workshop, Rutherford, NJ, 2003. Photo by Emily Socolov

Share your advocacy news

There are so many wonderful advocacy initiatives out there and there’s a good chance we may have missed or overlooked an important effort happening right now. So, please, take a moment to share any advocacy news you may encounter by filling out our “share your news” form.

Forward to Advocate as …