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H-ASIA November 15, 2008 Introducing the National Folklore Support Centre, India (x-post H-FOLK) ***************************************************************** From: malar <info@INDIANFOLKLORE.ORG> Dear H-Folk colleagues, I am glad to introduce the National Folklore Support Centre, India. National Folklore Support Centre (NFSC) is a non-governmental, non-profit organization, registered in Chennai, dedicated to the promotion of Indian folklore research, education, training, networking, and publications. The aim of the Centre is to integrate scholarship with activism, aesthetic appreciation with community development, comparative folklore studies with cultural diversities and identities, dissemination of information with multi-disciplinary dialogues, folklore fieldwork with developmental issues, folklore advocacy with public programming events and digital technology with applications to voice the cultures of the marginalised and historically disadvantaged communities. Folklore is a tradition based on any expressive behavior that brings a group together, creates a convention and commits it to cultural memory. NFSC aims to achieve its goals through cooperative and experimental activities at various levels. The NFSC currently is: a. Establishing six digital community archives at various locations in the country. The organization is working closely with collaborators and the local community to set up digital archives of oral traditions and traditional knowledge systems of marginalized and endangered communities in a manner that is participatory and empowering. b. Conducting serial public programs including lectures and film screenings. Workshops on the visual arts traditions of India are conducted regularly in city colleges with artistes from marginalized communities. http://wiki.indianfolklore.org/index.php?title=Category:Indian_School_of_Fol klore c. Running an extensive publications program that includes bringing out a monthly email newsletter, the quarterly newsletter, Indian Folklife, and the annual research journal, Indian Folklore Research Journal. The Centre is managing a portal which currently hosts 13 journals on folklore and allied disciplines (http://indianfolklore.org/journals/ ) Eight of these have uploaded at least one issue and five have invited submissions. A few have print versions and others are exclusively online. A similar portal for conferences with the facility to access papers online is also being maintained at http://indianfolklore.org/conferences/ . The Centre has also published several books. Details at http://wiki.indianfolklore.org/index.php?title=Category:Publications d. Building encyclopaedias on folklore and dictionaries of endangered languages. Of the two encyclopaedias - one is for children on the folklore relating to birds, animals and plants found in the country and one is to be a comprehensive resource on Indian folklore (please check http://wiki.encyclopaediaindica.com ). Research and fieldwork for the digital community archives is also feeding into the creation of dictionaries for endangered languages such as Jenu Kuruba and Gondi. e. Promoting inter-cultural research by establishing collaborations across continents, providing fellowships for scholars in north-eastern India to conduct research on indigenous communities other than their own and providing students access to a vast collection of documented and archived folklore. f. Setting up an online learning site with several courses on folklore being constructed by experts in the field and staff at the Centre (http://indianfolklore.org/moodle/). NFSC has adopted the following program strategies from its inception in 1997 and they have transformed the Centre into an important resources centre for folklore and allied disciplines in India. 1. Integrated Programming: NFSC's publications, public programmes, research and documentation projects, and educational course modules are integrated in a non-linear way, ensuring that the body of work created is always evolving. Programme initiatives at NFSC are undertaken primarily for the sake of creation of resources for the folklore field consisting of folk artists, scholars, activists, institutions, and communities. The types of resources are databases, methodologies, library and archival collections, manuals and guides, reference works such as encyclopaedia, replicable prototypes, publications and other media for the field and create knowledge in a particular domain where there is a perceivable gap. NFSC has created examples in each of the types mentioned above. NFSC always serializes its programs, whether publications or public programs. NFSC pursues and sustains the scholarly quest in such a way that at the end of a serial we have a significant body of work. Examples of serialized programs include series of lectures, the quarterly newsletter, Indian Folklife, workshops in visual arts traditions of India, and research and documentation projects on the oral epics of India. In case of theoretical endeavors, an inquiry is carried over several seminars, symposiums, and publications. 2. Addressing and documenting challenges: NFSC's way of addressing the challenges involved in each of its projects is in built into the programming cycle and the solutions are arrived at through wide consultations with the constituencies NFSC serves. NFSC chooses to work with highly marginalized and historically disadvantaged communities. For the best deployment of resources, viability of a project, possibility of comparisons in different contexts, and prior research done are also taken into consideration in deciding the program/ research themes. 3. Theory and practice: NFSC continuously theorizes and updates its practices and they are widely and freely shared. Typical cycle of program-related activities at NFSC: (1) Do intensive ethnographic fieldwork at least for a year-long period (2) Archive the fieldwork collections (3) Make a public presentation of the research collection at Indian School of Folklore (4) Record the public presentation and take it to web broadcasting through www.indianfolklore.org (5) Take the results including the responses to the Indian Folklore Research Journal (6) Return a copy of the entire documentation to the community (7) Do follow-up work on the basis of the responses from the community (8) Do a community archive (9) Consolidate the processes (1) to (8) and take it to teaching programmes of the Centre 4. Usage of Wikis: Recently NFSC has begun using Wiki software for indexing and cross-referencing all of its serialized programs and it has become a standard practice within NFSC to maintain in-house and project-based Wikis. The practice yields a large corpus of retrievable reference works, which we intend to use as educational material for our courses. See http://wiki.indianfolklore.org/ More information about NFSC activities and history can be found in our newsletter for the month of November. D o visit our blog at http://indianfolklore.org/nfscpress/ for details.Please do follow the links from the newsletter for detailed descriptions of our projects. Archives of earlier newsletters are also available at the blog. Our website is http://www.indianfolklore.org Thanks! Malarvizhi. J Programme Officer (Publications and Communication) National Folklore Support Centre ********************************************************************** To post to H-ASIA simply send your message to: <H-ASIA@h-net.msu.edu> For holidays or short absences send post to: <email@example.com> with message: SET H-ASIA NOMAIL Upon return, send post with message SET H-ASIA MAIL H-ASIA WEB HOMEPAGE URL: http://h-net.msu.edu/~asia/