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Benjamin A. Botkin head and shoulders portrait
Folklorist Benjamin A. Botkin, 1926. Photo courtesy of the Botkin family.
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Benjamin A. Botkin Folklife Lecture Series

Through the Benjamin A. Botkin Folklife Lecture Series, the American Folklife Center (AFC) presents distinguished experts speaking about their research and current issues and best practices in folklore, folklife, ethnomusicology, and related fields. Lectures are recorded for the AFC archive and posted on the Library's website. (See below for list of speakers and topics.) The series honors Benjamin A. Botkin (1901-1975), a pioneering folklorist who headed the Library's Archive of American Folksong from 1942-1945.


2016 Botkin Lectures


The Transformative Power of Storytelling: A Social Force for Social Change, Kiran Singh Sirah, President, International Storytelling Center

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Kiran Singh Sirah
Kiran Singh Sirah
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Wednesday, May 25, 2016 
Noon to 1:00 p.m.
Mary Pickford Theater, 3rd floor,
James Madison Building, Library of Congress

Kiran Singh Sirah will discuss the power and artistry of storytelling as an ancient art form and as the world's oldest form of communication. He will discuss what he describes as one of the greatest community-building tools that we can use to foster, cultivate and strengthen peace and collaboration in our communities, and will also explore how we might collectively use new storytelling forms in the arenas of peace and community development to help establish a conflict-free world.

Kiran Singh Sirah is president of the International Storytelling Center, producers of the world-acclaimed National Storytelling Festival, based in Jonesborough, Tennessee. Before coming to the United States, Sirah established a number of award-winning arts, cultural and human rights programs in the United Kingdom, including post-9/11 programs at the National Museums Scotland; several peace and conflict resolution initiatives exploring issues of religious, ethnic, and sectarian conflicts in Scotland and Northern Ireland; and the Helen Keller International Arts award, establishing disability arts as part of Glasgow’s Creative UNESCO City of Music. In 2011, Kiran embarked on a Rotary Peace Fellowship, focusing on the folklore of "home." Working across the arts, cultural, peace building, and international development communities, he emphasizes "the power of human creativity, arts, storytelling and social justice, and the notion of a truly multicultural society" In 2012, Kiran was invited to give a keynote address at the Rotary International-United Nations Day at the UN headquarters, entitled "Telling Stories That Matter—A Project that Encourages the Use of Arts, Culture and Diverse Storytelling within the International Peace Building Community."

Musical Soundscapes of Morocco: From Africa to America, Samuel Torjman Thomas, John Jay and Hunter Colleges, City University of New York

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Samuel Torjman Thomas
Samuel Torjman Thomas
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Monday, June 6, 2016
Noon to 1:00 p.m.
Mary Pickford Theater, 3rd floor,
James Madison Building, Library of Congress

Morocco has long been a nexus point between east and west, drawing upon an inherently international position in world history and its own ethnic diversity (including Arab, Jewish, and Berber traditions) for creative musical inspirations. In recent generations, as Moroccans have immigrated in large numbers to North America, Europe, and Israel, they have brought their unique brand of music multiculturalism with them. Samuel Torjman Thomas, ethnomusicologist and artistic director of AsefaMusic and the New York Andalus Ensemble, explores the circulation of Moroccan music in America and the place of music in constructing modern Moroccan-American hybrid identities.

Co-sponsored by the American Folklife Center and the Hebrew Language Table at the Library of Congress in cooperation with the Washington Jewish Music Festival.

Request ADA accommodations five days in advance at 202-707-6362 or ADA@loc.gov

Dressing the Past: Civil War Reenactors, Williamsburg Historic Interpreters, and Exploring American Identity through Costume, Pravina Shukla, Indiana University

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Men marching, wearing  U.S. Civil War period uniforms.
Civil War Reenactors. Photo by Pravina Shukla.
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Tuesday, June 7, 2016
Noon-1:00 p.m.
Pickford Theater, 3rd Floor, James Madison Building, Library of Congress

The periods of the American Revolution and the Civil War remain topics of pride and contention, subjects of popular writing, and inspiration for costumed performance. In eighteenth-century garments at Colonial Williamsburg and in nineteenth-century uniforms on Civil War battlefields, modern Americans celebrate the nation’s history, and at the same time take the opportunity to air their political and cultural opinions while exploring significant aspects of their identities. Their costumes, differing from their daily dress, help them fulfill personal desires while they join with others in collective public performance.

Request ADA accommodations five days in advance at 202-707-6362 or ADA@loc.gov

Botkin Lecture Series Past Events Archive

Includes descriptions of each lecture, photos, and informational essays from the event flyers. Links to webcasts of lectures are included as available.

2015 Lecture Series

2014 Lecture Series

2013 Lecture Series

2012 Lecture Series

2011 Lecture Series

2010 Lecture Series

2009 Lecture Series

2008 Lecture Series

2007 Lecture Series

2006 Lecture Series

2005 Lecture Series

2004 Lecture Series

 

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   May 18, 2016
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