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.
Slaw Abiding Citizens
For Emily Hilliard, the West Virginia state folklorist and former Folkways staff member whose interest in the cultural phenomenon of the hot dog led her on a 286-mile road trip, what sets the state’s dogs apart lies in “the interplay of spicy, hot chili and cool, sweet coleslaw.” The popularity of hot dog joints, as Hilliard explains, surged in the late nineteenth century when industrial labor was on the rise and factory workers needed a quick, filling meal between shifts. But, as Hilliard puts it, the true dressing on West Virginia hot dogs is “the stories locals tell about these places.”
Rumba in Cuba, a festive combination of music and dances
Among this year's additions to UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage is the Cuban rumba. Springing from the country’s poorer communities, the dance is an enduring “expression of resistance and self-esteem.” The Cuban rumba, which draws from African culture, Antillean elements, and Spanish flamenco, aims to connect people across social and economic lines and evokes a “grace, sensuality and joy” all its own.
Global development podcast: what role can tourism play in development?
Each year, millions of tourists visit developing countries, drawn by beautiful beaches, sunshine, and wildlife, but, at a time of so called “slumdog tourism,” wherein tours are invited to take pictures of desperate living conditions, can the tourism industry ethically support global development? In this podcast from The Guardian, interviewees make the case for non-exploitive practices to help meet the UN’s millennium development goals.
For Shirley Collins, a Folk Revival of Her Very Own
Shirley Collins’s latest album, Lodestar, her first since 1979, presents a vocal “wariness and darkness” unlike the angelic sound for which the British folk artist was long known. Collins, who topped the British folk charts in the early 1960s to late ’70s, largely disappeared from the music scene after suffering from dysphonia, a neurological disorder causing interruptions of speech and affecting voice quality. In her new album, Collins presents a gravitas that “ideally suits the grim subject matter of traditional songs.”
Jeju’s women divers gain UNESCO recognition
Citing their integral role in advancing women’s status and promoting environmental sustainability, UNESCO this week added haenyeo, or Korea’s famous female drivers of Jeju, to its Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. The divers, some in their eighties, gather shellfish for up to seven hours a day in a practice that’s been passed down from generation to generation and captures the character and spirit of the island.
Photo by Reza Shayestehpour
Special thanks to Elisa Hough, Halle Butvin, Fred Knittel, Meredith Holmgren, and Amalia Cordova for their contributions to this week’s digest.