"Forest Commons in the Kingdom of Coal"

"The Witness Trees Revolt: 
Folklore and the Fate of Forest Commons in the Kingdom of Coal"

Alan Dundes Lecture, 2018
by Professor Mary Hufford, University of Pennsylvania
Tuesday April 3, 2018

5:00 PM
221 Kroeber Hall, Gifford Room
UC Berkeley

"In the Central Appalachian coalfields, the trees anchor three mutually exclusive forests: the economic forest of the corporate state, the ecological forest of scientists, and a vernacular forest with more-than-human entanglements. The vernacular forest depends for its reproduction on speech genres, laden with sensory information and forest species exuding communal time. Through the continual exchange of sensory memory, (a practice that Semetakis calls “reflexive commensality,”) conversationalists in West Virginia's Big Coal River Valley track the fate of forest commons, species, and identities in the Kingdom of Coal." 

Mary Hufford is Director of the Center for Folklore and Ethnography at the University of Pennsylvania, and visiting professor at UC Berkeley, Spring 2018. She has published widely on folklore, cultural policy and ecological crisis, including an edited volume, Conserving Culture: A New Discourse on Heritage. Her regional studies in central Appalachia and in southern New Jersey, including Chaseworld: Foxhunting and Storytelling in the New Jersey Pine Barrens, reflect her broader interest in discourses on nature, environment, and the body, and the production of social imaginaries.


Sponsored by the Berkeley Folklore Graduate Program

Folklore Archive