Curatorial ConversationsCultural Representation and the Smithsonian Folklife Festival

Curatorial ConversationsCultural Representation and the Smithsonian Folklife Festival

Olivia Cadaval, Sojin Kim, and Diana Baird N'Diaye

Print publication date: 2017

ISBN: 9781496805980

Publisher: University Press of Mississippi


Since its origins in 1967, The Smithsonian Folklife Festival has gained national and international recognition as a model for the research and public presentation of living cultural heritage and the advocacy of cultural democracy. Festival curators play a major role in interpreting Festival principles and shaping its practices. Curatorial Conversations brings together for the first time in one volume the combined expertise of Festival curatorial staff—past and present—in examining the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage’s cultural heritage representation practices and their critical implications for issues of intangible cultural heritage policy, cultural pluralism, and identity. This volume represents the first concerted project by Festival staff curators to systematically examine institutional principles and philosophical underpinnings and claims as they have evolved over time, and to address broader debates on cultural representation from their own experiences at the Festival.

Table of Contents

Front Matter


C. Kurt Dewhurst and Marsha Macdowell


Robert Baron


Diana Baird N’Diaye, Olivia Cadaval, and Sojin Kim

Part One Early Vision and Transformations

Part Two Collaborations and Cultural Politics

Part Three The Poetics of Representation

Part Four The Festival as Catalyst


James Early