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.
Manufacturing Bob Marley
In So Much Things to Say: The Oral History of Bob Marley, historian Roger Steffens traces the history of the reggae king’s singular and intoxicating career. In this review, Hua Hsu examines the contemporary relevance of the oral history medium. “It’s designed to provide open-ended, immersive filibusters, balancing projection with hazy memory,” Hsu writes. “At a time when quick takes abound, the labor-intensive nature of the form, as well as the seeming lack of a writerly voice or perspective, gives the impression of relating everyone’s side.”
The Architectural Wonders of Thailand’s White Temple
In Chiang Rai, Thailand, the brilliantly intricate Wat Rong Khun Temple is as elaborate as it is entrancing. “From the ghoulish heads that hang from surrounding trees, to the hands that reach for you as you cross the bridge to the main temple, every part of this site is unique.” In this video, which explores the negative attention the temple first received, Wat Rong Khun is presented as a “symbol of Thai art for the modern world.”
The Explorer’s History of Korean Fiction in Translation
In this review of Korean literature in translation, Charles Montgomery chronicles how past and present overlap in the country’s postmodern fiction. “The single, unified narrative of centuries, the struggle for survival of the country, had fractured into many individual stories,” Montgomery writes, reflecting on the end of formal censorship. “Writers no longer necessarily attempted to speak for Korea as a whole, or to deliver their visions of what that whole should be.”
This Photographer Took Pictures of Every One of Her Facebook Friends to Understand Friendship in the Digital Age
“Photographing people in their homes…that was me trying to understand what a friend was,” said Tanja Hollander, whose photographs of her 626 Facebook friends are now on view at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. “Because to me, the home is as important to defining who you are as any kind of emotional definition. You were introduced to their friends and their families. You saw what books or art they had, or lack of books or art. The little objects they surround themselves with.”
How to Talk to Your Mixed Race Kids about Race
For Sonia Smith-Kang, cofounder of Mixed Heritage Day in Los Angeles, addressing topics of race and ethnicity with her children means striking a delicate balance between clarification and understanding. “I want [my daughter] to know that it’s ok however she identifies, and she only has to identify herself if she wants to,” Smith-Kang explains, “They don’t owe people an explanation, and they’re not responsible for making other kids comfortable with them.”
Special thanks to editor Elisa Hough and to Michael Atwood Mason for their contributions to this week’s digest.