Folklife Friday is a weekly digest of arts and culture articles, podcasts, and videos from across the web. Read on for a selection of the week’s best cultural heritage pieces, and don’t forget to check back next Friday for a new set of weekly picks.
Redefining Fashion & Architecture in Bolivia: Cholitas y Cholets
In La Paz, Bolivia, neo-Andean architecture is on full display in hues varied and vivid. In this VICE video, architect Freddy Mamani discusses his singular sensibility—one predicated on the strong geometric patterns of his indigenous forbearers and reimagined in a new context. “Why can’t I invest in a new kind of architecture with its style and its own original essence?” Indigenous influences carry over to the garments of the city’s cholitas who want, more than anything else, to preserve their identity.
Amy Tan Talks about Her New Memoir, Politics and Why She’s Not Always ‘Joy Lucky’
In Where the Past Begins, author Amy Tan presents a sweeping portrait of the many challenges she faced in years past, among them her fractious relationship with her mother, the deaths of her father and brother, and the loss of her grandmother to an opium overdose. In this article, Tan, who is best known for The Joy Luck Club, admits, “I am contradictory in my need for privacy to write about what is private.” The result of that writing is, as Nora Krug explains here, “a book that is raw and immediate, if not entirely cohesive.”
UC Berkeley Uses Optical Scanning to Recover Indigenous Voices from Wax Cylinders
A new project at UC Berkeley is using innovative optical scan technology to transfer and digitally restore spoken-word recordings of seventy-eight indigenous languages in California. Supported by the National Science Foundation, the initiative aims to preserve about one hundred hours of audio. “Although the recordings are limited, each only a few minutes long,” Allison Meier writes, “they are invaluable for understanding the diverse languages of indigenous life in California.”
Dolores Huerta: The Civil Rights Icon Who Showed Farmworkers ‘Sí Se Puede’
In the new documentary Dolores, director Peter Bratt chronicles Huerta’s lifelong work fighting racial and economic injustices on behalf of California farmworkers. In this Q&A, Maria Godoy chats with Huerta about the many trials she has faced as a woman, a mother, and a social activist. “I think that’s a problem with us as women—we don’t think we need to be in the power structure,” Huerta says. “But I say [to women out there]: Just do it like the guys do it.” Complement this with a spotlight on the California farmworker movement from the 2015 Smithsonian Folklife Festival.
What Do Vietnamese-Americans Think of ‘The Vietnam War’?
In reviewing the PBS series The Vietnam War, Thanh Tan reflects on the new and increasingly popular films—those she watched, by turns, with her Vietnamese American friends and refugee dad. The inaccuracies notwithstanding, among them a dearth of perspectives on certain aspects of the war, the series, at least for Tan, sets the stage for a poignant discussion with those closest to her—friends and family still negotiating their identities in an increasingly complex historical landscape.
Special thanks to editor Elisa Hough and to Michael Atwood Mason and Lisa Austin for their contributions to this week’s digest.
Photo by Peter Granser, published in the book “El Alto” by Edition Taube.