Sustaining Interdisciplinary Collaboration: A Guide for the Academy

University of Illinois Press
Free sample

At once a slogan and a vision for future scholarship, interdisciplinarity promises to break through barriers to address today's complex challenges. Yet even high-stakes projects often falter, undone by poor communication, strong feelings, bureaucratic frameworks, and contradictory incentives. This new book shows newcomers and veteran researchers how to craft associations that will lead to rich mutual learning under inevitably tricky conditions. Strikingly candid and always grounded, the authors draw a wealth of profound, practical lessons from an in-depth case study of a multiyear funded project on cultural property. Examining the social dynamics of collaboration, they show readers how to anticipate sources of conflict, nurture trust, and jump-start thinking across disciplines. Researchers and institutions alike will learn to plan for each phase of a project life cycle, capturing insights and shepherding involvement along the way.
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About the author

Regina F. Bendix is a professor of cultural anthropology and European ethnology at the University of Göttingen. She is coeditor of the journal Narrative Culture. Kilian Bizer is a professor of economic policy and director of the Center for European Governance and Economic Development Research as well as the Institute for Small Business Economics at the University of Göttingen. Dorothy Noyes is a professor in the departments of English and comparative studies at the Ohio State University. She is the author of Humble Theory: Folklore's Grasp on Social Life.
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Additional Information

Publisher
University of Illinois Press
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Published on
Mar 28, 2017
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Pages
160
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ISBN
9780252099397
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Language
English
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Genres
Education / General
Education / Higher
Education / Organizations & Institutions
Social Science / Anthropology / Cultural & Social
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Authenticity is a notion much debated, among discussants as diverse as cultural theorists and art dealers, music critics and tour operators. The desire to find and somehow capture or protect the “authentic” narrative, art object, or ceremonial dance is hardly new. In this masterful examination of German and American folklore studies from the eighteenth century to the present, Regina Bendix demonstrates that the longing for authenticity remains deeply implicated in scholarly approaches to cultural analysis.
Searches for authenticity, Bendix contends, have been a constant companion to the feelings of loss inherent in modernization, forever upholding a belief in a pristine yet endangered cultural essence and fueling cultural nationalism worldwide. Beginning with precursors of Herder and Emerson and the “discovery” of the authentic in expressive culture and literature, she traces the different, albeit intertwined, histories of German Volkskunde and American folklore studies. A Swiss native educated in American folklore programs, Bendix moves effortlessly between the two traditions, demonstrating how the notion of authenticity was used not only to foster national causes, but also to lay the foundations for categories of documentation and analysis within the nascent field of folklore studies.
Bendix shows that, in an increasingly transcultural world, where Zulu singers back up Paul Simon and where indigenous artists seek copyright for their traditional crafts, the politics of authenticity mingles with the forces of the market. Arguing against the dichotomies implied in the very idea of authenticity, she underscores the emptiness of efforts to distinguish between folklore and fakelore, between echt and ersatz.
Selected by Choice magazine as an Outstanding Academic Title

Fire in the Plaça is the first full-length study in English of the Patum, a Corpus Christi fire festival unique to Berga, Catalonia, Spain, celebrated annually since the seventeenth century. Participants in the festival are transformed through drink, sleep deprivation, crowding, constant motion, and the smoke and sparks of close-range firecrackers into passionate members of a precarious body politic. Combining richly layered symbolism with intense bodily expression, the Patum has long served as a grassroots equivalent of grand social theory; it moves from a representation of social divisions to a forcible communion among them.

The Patum's dancing effigies—giants, dwarves, Turks and Christian knights, devils and angels, a crowned eagle, and two flaming mule-dragons—have provided local allegories for a long series of political conflicts, but the festival obscures its own messages in smoke and motion to enable a temporary merging of opposites. Activists in the 1970s transition to democracy in Spain took the Patum as a model of how old adversaries might collaborate: it helped to shape the mix of assertiveness in performance and compromise in practice that is typical of contemporary Catalan nationalism. The Patum became a focus of resistance to the Franco regime and drew visitors from all over Catalonia, serving as a rehearsal for the mass protests in Barcelona. Later, it provided the newly autonomous region with a vehicle for integrating immigrants and a vocabulary of belonging, culminating in the Patum-derived devils of the closing ceremonies of the 1992 Olympic games.

Today, as mines and factories have closed in Berga, the Patum serves as an arena in which provincial Catalans model their relationship to Barcelona, Europe, and the world, and reflects their ambivalence about the choices open to them. Seeking a third way between tourism and terrorism, provincial towns like Berga show us the future of all local communities under globalization.

In collective performances such as the Patum, tensions between cultural and political representation are made visible, and the gap between aspiration and possibility is both bridged and acknowledged. In this exceptionally rich ethnographic study, Dorothy Noyes explores the predicament of provincial communities striving to overcome internal conflict and participate in a wider world.
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