Call for papers

International Conference of Young Folklorists.
The Stuff of Tradition: Materiality and Media in Folklore Studies
October 26–28, 2022, Helsinki, Finland

Thank you to all who submitted abstracts! We are currently building the programme and are looking forward to seeing you next autumn. 

Having been historically conceived as the study of intangible aspects of vernacular expressive practice and having gone through its own self-critique of text- and logo-centrism, folklore studies appears to be in a tensional relationship with materiality. Within folklore studies, inscribed print communication and the “secondary orality” (Ong 1988) of audiovisual media – like radio and television – were long argued to represent an adversary or degradation of supposedly authentic modes of communication (e.g., face-to-face speech). Furthermore, many of the foundational binaries of the discipline (e.g., oral–literate, traditional–modern) can be traced to its tense relations with materiality.

We are interested in exploring this troubled relationship of folklore studies with materiality by juxtaposing it with recent re-orientations to media and (re)mediation in the shared ground between folklore, media, cultural, religious studies, ethnology, and linguistic anthropology. Indeed, the recent proliferation of digital technologies and new media platforms – not to mention our collective embrace of these media during the pandemic – seems to have only foregrounded the material and tangible aspects and effects of various communicative channels, technologies, genres, and media to the extent of introducing new horizons in many disciplines. In folklore studies, we might rethink the material, technological, and mediational nature of the central processes of textualization, traditionalization, and heritagization through which cultural objects (whether intangible or not, textual or not, traditional or not) are decontextualized and objectified for further social circulation, valuation, use, and consumption. We are also interested in broadening discussions on the significance of human and non-human bodies, affects, and sensations – all materialities and mediations in themselves – associated with various vernacular practices. Finally, we encourage methodological discussion on how folklore scholars and ethnographers are themselves bound by various (new) media and technologies of documentation, archiving, and presentation.

The forthcoming Young Folklorists welcomes proposals for papers on a range of topics related to materiality and media in the realms of traditional, vernacular, and popular culture, folklore, and heritage. Potential themes for proposals include but are not limited to the following subject areas; that is, papers addressing other issues relevant for contemporary folklore studies are accepted as well.

  • Entanglements of materiality and immateriality, e.g., cultural (heritage) artifacts, artworks, religious and cosmological objects
  • Media, (re)mediation, and mediatization of folklore and vernacular expression, e.g., digital and technological mediation, commercial appropriation, traditionalization as re-mediation
  • Archival and documentary practices and technologies, e.g., digitalization, quantification, big data
  • Sites, environments, spaces, and places of vernacular practice, e.g., social media platforms, virtual spaces
  • Human and non-human bodies, their perceptual, affective, agential, and relational capabilities, and their implications for vernacular practice
  • Multimodal, non-referential, and ritualized aspects of vernacular expression, e.g., performativity, affectivity, technological assemblages
  • (Im)materiality and (im)mediation in the methodology and history of folklore studies
  • Material and embodied aspects of metaphors, e.g., textuality as texture, tradition as handing down
  • Material representations of extra-sensory phenomena, e.g., the afterlife, the otherworld, and their inhabitants
  • Applications in digital, sensory, and auto-ethnography

The working language of the conference is English. Please submit titled abstracts of no more than 250 words for individual papers, along with your name, affiliation, email, and a brief biographical note (2–3 sentences max) to our conference email We ask you to submit the abstracts before April 15th, 2022. Notifications of acceptance or rejection will be sent out by May 6th at the latest. Depending on the number of participants, the length of individual papers will be between 15 and 20 minutes. There is no conference fee, but participants are expected to cover their travel and accommodation expenses.

For further information about the conference and the programme, please visit the conference website or contact us at: