Skip to main content
  • Folklife Friday: Springsteen, Digitized Photos, Yugoslav Mariachi, and More

    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.

    Bruce Springsteen: On Jersey, Masculinity, and Wishing To Be His Stage Persona
    In his new autobiography, Born to Run, Bruce Springsteen reflects on the concept of manhood, his father’s “rigidity and blue-collar narcissism,” and his own bouts of depression. Here, Springsteen talks to Terry Gross about those tensions and the role music played in addressing them. “People see you on stage,” Springsteen says, “and, yeah, I'd want to be that guy.”

    Over 250,000 Photographs from the George Eastman Museum Go Online
    The George Eastman Museum this week digitized over 250,000 photographs from its extensive holdings. The series includes works from more than 8,000 photographers and, together, traces the evolution of photography in decades past. The online collection, accessible through an advanced search function, includes a video series on photographic processes spanning from daguerreotype to digital.

    The Mariachi Men of Yugoslavia
    In tracing the rise of Mexican music in post-war Yugoslavia, John Wrate examines the role played by frayed Soviet relations, a cultural void, and the crossover appeal of Mexican films. In one such example, One Day of Life, a 1950 a film set during Mexico’s ten-year civil war “was very near to the heart of Yugoslav people,” Zora Novak writes, “who were themselves not so long back fighting for freedom in World War Two.”

    To Speak Is to Blunder
    “What language, I wonder, does one use to feel?” It’s a question writer Yiyun Li poses in this poignant New Yorker essay. In it, Li explores the intricacies of language and why, for her, transitioning from Chinese to English was a crucial decision involving the repression of painful memories. “In my relationship with English,” Li writes, “with the intrinsic distance between a nonnative speaker and an adopted language that makes people look askance, I feel invisible but not estranged.”

    Christmas Where It’s Hot
    In Sydney, Christmas is as much about salads and mangoes as it is about turkey and stuffing. In this op-ed, Lisa Pryor reflects on the shifting demographics of the Christian world and what that means for the adoption of longstanding holiday traditions. Of particular interest to Pryor is the peculiarity of “someone else’s culture taped down onto a hot, dry continent.” It’s just these contradictions, Pryor argues, that make for an authentic cultural experience, messy as it might be.

Support the Folklife Festival, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, Cultural Vitality Program, educational outreach, and more.