Abstract

This article focuses on the current proliferation of ethnographies written by nonprofessional ethnographers, a mode of cultural production I call "popular folklore." My task in this work is twofold. First, I discuss the function of professional folklore and anthropology as well as of the cultural commodification of ethnicities in the United States in reconfiguring the "common people"from objects of ethnography into legitimate ethnographic authors. Second, I discuss the value of a metaethnographic perspective on popular folklore for the discipline. I do so by undertaking a close analysis of the politics of a feminist popular ethnography of the "folkness" of Greek America. My reading makes a case for the productive cross-fertilization between the metaethnography of popular folklore and professional ethnography. The circulation of popular folklore, I suggest, opens a discursive space for a tactically interventionist folklore ethnography that engages in a critical dialogue with its nonprofessional counterparts. This proposed research agenda seeks to enlarge the universe of alternative meanings about the social constitution of selves or collectivities while raising acute questions about the ways to enhance the public resonance of critical folklore scholarship.

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