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Authenticity: Giving Shape to
What May be Abstract
 

Why "real" matters in celebrating or preserving our cultural assets

 

How do we explain the enduring power of folklife, and why is its authenticity worthy to be maintained? In October, Tucson Meet Yourself will help us respond to these questions, as we gather around those masters of tradition who pat the tortillas, weave the baskets and step the dances in simple but joyful demonstration of the essence of sometimes intangible, veritable folklife. This edition of BorderLore celebrates the significance of, and reflects on the goodness that comes from, authentic cultural identity as perpetuated through traditions:
  • For 41 years, attendees of Tucson Meet Yourself have been able to directly interact with the elders and tradition bearers who transmit the cultural knowledge and rituals of their community. Festivals, however, even "folklife" festivals, have been criticized by skeptics for only representing a superficial side of culture --that which is "fit for showing" and if often shown out of context. Yet, heritage artists and tradition bearers keep finding meaning in representing themselves at festivals. What to make of this conundrum? How "authentic" is what the public sees and experiences at Tucson Meet Yourself? Dr. Maribel Alvarez, our Festival Program Director, reminds us that the TMY experiential activity is still a valid channel for exploring cultural practices, and explains how authenticity fits in a discourse about preserving community and tradition here.
  • How good and familiar is the collective identity of faith, as is the sacred art which adds spiritual context in our lives. The dramatic murals in the foyer of St. Augustine's Cathedral articulate a community's faith tradition and endorse the power of authenticity, as the Cathedral's muralist John Alan Warford expresses here
  • The traditional cook is an ever-present constant of culture, even as globalization instigates cultural mash-up and flux. Family recipes and other multi-generation kitchen symbols contribute to a profound understanding of food's role in corroborating tradition. TMY Culture Kitchen Coordinator Priscilla Mendenhall gives her interpretation about authenticity's power in foodways here
  • The time-honored familiar sounds of folk music impart comfort to the listener and ensure that a culture is preserved and shared. The bağlama, or Turkish guitar, is one unique instrument essential to perpetuating tradition in Tucson's Turkish community. We learn more about Turkish folk music and the cultural connection fostered by the bağlama within our local community here
  • Gardens owe much to heritage seeds, traditional planting techniques and the wise influence of master garden keepers. Mission Garden acknowledges all this in its update on the Timeline Garden, seed identification and overall Mission Garden growth here
  • Records help us substantiate important events, and the O'odham elder responsible for a village's memory would use a "calendar stick" to record the community milestones. Read more and see a photo of the calendar stick currently exhibited at the Tohono O'odham Cultural Center and Museum here
  • News: Stay up-to-date about the Southwest Folklife Alliance and our TMY festival. More about a performance blending drama, choreography, tradition and martial arts at Tucson Chinese Cultural Center on September 5 and 6  here. Explore nuggets from across the active national folklife community here
Culture is part of us, an essential defining element of community well-being. Its authenticity matters. What is learned from an elder's storytelling or a family cookbook, and what is passed from one generation to the next at the community table, fills in the gaps and ensures that a familiar recurrence of culture practice is in the timeless circles of community that engage us all.


2014, Tucson Meet Yourself. All rights reserved. BorderLore is the monthly e-news magazine of Tucson Meet Yourself, bringing thoughtful documentation about regional folklore, folklife and all manners of artful ways (in language, food, dress, music, decoration, storytelling, history) that residents of these often-conflicted border lands produce and share.  


Editor: Dr. Maribel Alvarez
Managing Editor:  Monica Surfaro-Spigelman 

 

Thank you for reading this newsletter. We welcome your feedback, commentary and any suggestions or ideas. Write to us at:  info@tucsonmeetyourself.org

 

Previous issues of BorderLore Newsletter are archived here and here.  

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you for reading Tucson Meet Yourself BorderLore Newsletter
Thank you for reading Tucson Meet Yourself BorderLore Newsletter
Thank you for reading Tucson Meet Yourself BorderLore Newsletter
Thank you for reading Tucson Meet Yourself BorderLore Newsletter
Thank you for reading Tucson Meet Yourself BorderLore Newsletter
Thank you for reading Tucson Meet Yourself BorderLore Newsletter
Thank you for reading Tucson Meet Yourself BorderLore Newsletter
Thank you for reading Tucson Meet Yourself BorderLore Newsletter
August 2014 Stories:

 

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