Category Archives: Uncategorized

A Message in Support of the People of Ukraine from The Folklore Society

As a learned society long concerned with the everyday, overlooked and subtle ways that we make meaning in our lives and identities, we offer solidarity to our colleagues and friends in Ukraine at this most difficult time.  The threat posed by authoritarian regimes to free speech, free thinking and liberal civil society should be a matter of bygone historical fact rather than our present reality.  Any attempt to mobilise ethno-national identity as a tool of oppression and control should be vigorously and publicly rejected: we therefore affirm our support for the Ukrainian peoples and hold their plight in our hearts as events continue to unfold.

The cultural heritage of Ukraine is imperilled too. It was reported on 28 February that many works by Ukrainian artist Maria Primachenko, celebrated for her folk art style, were destroyed as the Ivankiv Museum of Local History burned down.

On 5 March, a data rescue session will take place online focused on identifying and archiving data and sites for music collections at cultural heritage institutions in Ukraine which may be at risk during the attack and invasion by Russia. Click here for more information.

Our colleagues at the American Folklore Society are also participating:

May I Give This Ukrainian Bread to All People in This Big Wide World
(Дарую українську паляницю всім людям на землі)
Maria Primachenko

© 1982

Calendar Customs at the Earth(ly) Matters 2020 online conference.

Moving a conference online is no mean feat: will the technology work? Will everyone feel engaged when they can’t make direct eye contact or network over finger food? How will Chairs and Speakers enliven the stilted atmosphere of the online world?

With Earth(ly) Matters 2020, Sheffield Hallam’s Humanities and Social Sciences Society have made it look fiendishly easy. Using the three thematic strands of the conference to organise presentations, Roots, Rebellions and Resolutions, Earth(ly) Matters was split over three Fridays in August to prevent Zoom fatigue and to enable attendance from anyone, anywhere.

The conference explored ‘what matters on Earth and how Earth matters’, taking Amitav Ghosh’s claim, that the current environmental crisis is ‘also a crisis of culture, and thus of imagination’, as provocation. What role, speakers were asked, can the humanities and social sciences play at a time of climate breakdown and a catastrophic decline in wildlife?

On Friday 7 August, under the banner of ‘Roots’, I was fortunate to be able to present my work on calendar customs and their link to the natural environment, exploring whether those involved in such calendar customs could become climate activists on a hyperlocal level. Presenters submitted a ‘verbal’ element (a written paper) and a ‘visual’ element ­(a recorded presentation with visual stimuli) for publication on the conference website to enable engagement beyond the ten-minute live talk on conference day.

Inspiring change remained at the heart of the day: how our work, actions, thoughts and ideas can contribute to a world where change is underway, and change is desperately needed. But there was also fun to be had. Once the conference came to a close, delegates were invited to try bingo – with a difference. Using the Zoom breakout room facility, we learnt more about the lives and research interests of our fellow delegates by collecting information on bingo cards. Finding someone that shares your preferred type of cooked potato has never been so urgent…

Sophie Parkes

You can visit the Earth(ly) Matters conference website HERE and view Sophie’s presentation of her paper Cheese-rolling, Pace-egging, Soul-caking: Can Calendar Customs Engender Stewardship of our Natural Environment below. Sophie would welcome any feedback you might have – contact her at: