Western Folklore

Vol. 79 No. 4 – Fall, 2020

(Current issue)

Barbro Klein: In Memoriam
Tok Thompson

Barbro Klein: In Memoriam is a tribute to the career of the late Swedish-American folklorist. The year after her death, the Nordic-Baltic section of the American Folklore Society put out a call for papers for a session honouring her, which would take place during the 2018 American Folklore Society meeting in Buffalo, New York. The response was overwhelming; it resulted in 16 presentations spread out over four sponsored panels, a significant testament to the influence and legacy of this important scholar. These presentations were the seeds of this memorial volume.

From the start, it was clear that honoring Barbro would be a major undertaking, requiring more than one volume, and further that publication of these works should display the same dedication to trans-Atlantic scholarly relations that she had pursued throughout her career. Accordingly, two academic journals were selected to host the work, Western Folklore in the United States, and Ethnologia Europaea in Europe. The memorial issue appearing in Ethnologia Europaea is guest edited by Lizette Gradén and Thomas O’Dell and includes mainly the work of scholars from the United States. Western Folklore is publishing the works of the European scholars. In this way, we hope to potentially introduce what may be less familiar works to colleagues on either side of the Atlantic.

These articles all reflect the hallmark of Barbo Klein’s approach: a rigorous investigation of the many voices—great and, perhaps especially, small—that make up our modern, complex society, and our ideas about identity, heritage, and belonging. Barbro Klein always seemed one step ahead in scholarship, and the trails she blazed have become well-trod paths. Barbro’s outlook echoes throughout the various articles in this volume, especially her attention to ethnic minorities and women in both scholarship and in everyday life, in venues ranging from community gardens to national museums.

We mourn the loss of Barbro as an inspirational scholar, enthusiastic colleague, and true friend. But her legacy lives on, displayed brilliantly in the works of the many she influenced. We are proud to present this special work honouring Barbro Klein’s work, in coordination withEthnologia Europaea.

In the Shadow of Money: Making Heritage and Creating Diversities in Museum Contexts
Lizette Gradén and Tom O’Dell
 
ABSTRACT: This article addresses the ways in which contemporary political processes, neoliberal market forces, and identity politics of the twenty-first century have affected the understanding of Swedish heritage. Examining the work being done at the Hallwyl Museum in Stockholm, Sweden and the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis, Minnesota, we aim to illustrate how heritage is staged, performed, and expressed in contemporary museum settings. KEYWORDS: heritage, public folklore, cultural economy, diversity, museums

“What the Heck Happened to the Accordion Player?” Music, Movement, and Modernity in Two Oral Narratives
Sverker Hyltén-Cavallius
 
ABSTRACT: This article is a close reading of two narratives recounted during an interview with music radio entrepreneur Erland Green in the spring of 1995, both relating to barn dance events in the mid-twentieth century Västmanland countryside. The humorous narratives are dramatized and propelled forward through the narrator’s gestures and movements, which embody the rhythm of an absent music. From movement to composition, these narratives highlight the effects of modernization on rural ways of life and address existential issues. KEYWORDS: Narrative, music, barn dance, modernity, movement

Karelian Cultural Heritage in Finland’s Folklife Sphere
Eila Stepanova
 
ABSTRACT: Since the nineteenth century, Karelian folklore has been used to reinforce Finnishness. However, the Karelians remain invisible in Finland’s folklife and public spheres because the notion that Karelian culture exists only in an idealized Finnish past—rescued by Finns—is deeply rooted in both official and vernacular understandings of Finnishness. Despite this, Karelian cultural organizations in Finland are working to develop the Karelian language and culture and prevent their museologization. KEYWORDS: Karelian, Finnishness, Folklife sphere, Identity, Heritage

Her Unwritten Legacy: Women’s Projects and the History of Folklore Studies
Mathilde Frances Lind
 
ABSTRACT: Barbro Klein’s research on women’s contributions to the development of ethnographic disciplines in Sweden inspired an examination of connections between women’s cultural projects and early folklore studies. This article describes how two woman-led projects in Ireland and Sweden (1893-1910) reflect women’s historical realities and relate to contemporaneous and current folklore research and practices. By expanding the scholarly canon to include such projects alongside written works, we can discover a more diverse history of the field. KEYWORDS: women, history, textile crafts, public folklore, writing.

A Formidable Success and an Exceptional Storyteller: Analyzing Stories From an Interview Conducted by Barbro Klein in 1967
Susanne Nylund Skog
 
ABSTRACT: In 1967, Barbro Klein conducted interviews with the Swedish American Carl Nelson, born in 1878, who was an important informant for the Swedish folklore collector Karl Gösta Gilstring. Drawing inspiration from Klein’s work on legend and belief, her perspective on narratives as performances, as well as her transcription methods, this article analyzes stories told during Klein’s interviews and contextualizes them with correspondence between Nelson, Gilstring, and Klein. KEYWORDS legend, belief, storytelling, Swedish America, folklore collection

“More or Less Word for Word” Barbro Klein and Transcription as Analytical Craft
Ida Tolgensbakk
 
ABSTRACT: Transcription is a translation from oral to written word, and scholars who use interviews or fieldwork in research do it frequently. Strangely, within scholarship that is not explicitly linguistic, there is little discussion of transcription—neither of its craft nor of the ethical and analytical work that happens when morphing the oral to the written. Barbro Klein, however, showed transcription’s analytical power. This paper discusses transcription practices, from Klein’s work to my own. KEYWORDS: transcription, ethnography, ethics, methodology.