But it was fitting like a tight chemise. I couldn’t see it for wearing it.
—Zora Neale Hurston, Mules and Men (1935)
Although we do not sign formal contracts when we become folklorists, there seems to be a traditional and often unspoken assumption that it is our obligation to perform certain types of cultural work directed toward implicitly sanctioned goals. This implied contract, like all contracts, also has implied terms. In law, implied contractual terms are those terms that are not explicitly stated but assumed to exist by tradition. Implied terms cover a lot of ground, from the presumption that the seller of an object has the legal right to sell to the belief that part of the secretary’s job is to get his boss coffee. Implied terms are where law and culture come together, opening a space to work ...
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