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CultureMade: Heritage Enterprise in a World on the Move

Welcome to CultureMade: Heritage Enterprise in a World on the Move , an audio collaboration from the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, the American Anthropological Association and This Anthro Life Podcast.

Join hosts Adam Gamwell, Leslie Walker and Ryan Collins as they explore what it means to craft, form, and make culture in a world defined by movement, migration, and changing borders. Step into behind the scenes conversations and candid interviews from the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. Hear from artists, fashion designers, dancers, weavers, and craftsmen who give life to heritage and shape the many worlds of traditional culture in a planet on the move.

Episode 5 Heritage Survival Across Borders

Cultural survival is a complex subject framed by migration, misconceptions over language and identity, as well as by resilience of the human spirit across borders. With a subject like cultural survival, the question comes to mind, what factors threaten shared heritage, tradition, and disband communities? Here we are joined by Alejandro Santiago González (Ixil), and Mercedes M. Say Chaclan (K’iche) representatives of Washington, DC-based Mayan League, an organization working to sustain Maya culture, communities, and lands. Alejandro and Mercedes share their experiences and give insight into the ongoing struggles Maya peoples face today, including issues of language, translation, and communication for indigenous immigrants who are currently in the United States. Helping to elucidate this subject, we are joined by Ph.D. Folklorist Emily Socolov, a frequent collaborator with the Smithsonian Institution’s Division of Folklife and Cultural Heritage and an Executive Director of the Non-Profit Mano a Mano: Mexican Culture Without Borders, serving the Mexican immigrant community in New York. 

Episode 4 The Craft of Curation

What does it mean to put on a festival or put on a museum exhibit? How can we understand culture on display and introduce outsiders to other social realms? Sharing their narratives and experiences with different forms of curation are Diana Baird N’Diaye, Cultural Specialist and Curator at the Smithsonian Center for Culture and Folklife, Arman Atoyan, CEO and Founder of the (AR) and virtual reality (VR) app and game development company Arloopa, and Pablo Girona, a researcher from Tucuman, Argentina who studies cultural heritage in Catalonia and Quebec.

Episode 3 Sharing Sonic Space

The connection humans make with music is so deep that it can impact us physically and serve as a key point of return for our memories. As our guests from the Smithsonian Folklife Festival can attest, as much as it conjures deep feelings and memories, we learn something through the experience of music. Joining the distinct artists together in their views on music is a central theme, that music can help us overcome social difference.

Episode 2 Art is a Movement

How does art help contribute to political protest? Should art never be sold for money? How can dance unify a community? How are traditions like calligraphy and traditional dances passed on between generations? Art is complex. Though what counts as art within a society is often recognizable to insiders, the rationale as to why is often much more difficult to discern. Anthropology, at its best, can help us explore the complexities of art. Through critical dialogue, anthropologists can ask what it means to experience art from the vantage point of different cultures and explore messages that the artist intend to convey.

Episode 1 Weaving Social Fabric

In the US, fashion has been relegated to large impersonal retail spaces and increasingly online stores. Fashion in the US, as many know all too well, is transactional. The sense of community one has through clothing is often expressed through style though it is exceedingly rare for truly deep relationships to develop between the designer and the purchaser, even if an article of clothing is commissioned. But, community and fashion can be much more integrated. With this episode, we invite you into the conversations we had with participants in the Crafts of African Fashion program at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in 2018. We speak with Soumana Saley a Nigerian leather worker and designer, Cynthia Sands and her mentee Tomara Watkins, also known as Tam, two fashion designers who work between the United States and the African continent, and the program’s curator Diana Baird N’Diaye.

Images from recording at the festival