This panel addresses so-called “folkloric” forms of evidence and authority in contemporary political and legal contexts. Scholars have historically seen such authority in supposedly modern contexts as acts of transplantation•character toys of Taiwanese gods are transplanted gods, Berkeley-based shamans are New Age re-creations of older roles. However, this overlooks the intricate ways in which political relations and folkloric notions of authority and evidence are co-constitutive. The speakers are exploring two intertwined questions about the mutually constitutive links between social relations and contexts, namely: How, and with what baggage, do folkloric indexes travel from context to context? And, to what extent do particular social relations and folkloric indexes recursively constitute their contexts? To address this question ethnographically, the authors explore how folkloric authority•when framed as traditional and locatable--is promised and performed in contexts constructed as modern and displaceable. Following Briggs' insights in his 2021 book, Unlearning, this panel examines how people engaged in establishing persuasive political frameworks increasingly find the dichotomy between the traditional and the modern good to think with, often implicitly invoking the dialectic processes inherent to this dichotomy in efforts to understand widespread economic, legal, and social transformations, and propose alternatives. While the comparison between tradition and modern seems endemic to the political moment, the techniques with which people create this dichotomy are quite divergent, techniques which produce different forms of authority, different gendered relations, as well as different sorts of hybrid contexts. Not all techniques for producing such dichotomies are equally effective, or mutually compatible. Sometimes these diverse political projects resonate with each other for a time, creating productive yet finite collaborations. The connections between authority and folklore are culturally specific, and it is this specificity that structures both how well forms of authority travel, and how well they articulate with putatively modern contexts.
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In Racialized Language Discourse, What Counts as Authority and Evidence?
AAA Annual Meeting 2021
18 November 2021