The 21st century has smiled upon SIEF. We have had a series of strong congresses from 2001 to 2015. From Budapest to Marseille, from Derry to Lisbon, and from Tartu to Zagreb, our congresses have been a success story. SIEF has momentum.
SIEF - the International Society for Ethnology and Folklore - is a pluridisciplinary organization, centered in and around the twin fields in its name. Like the fields it represents, SIEF is eclectic and open-minded. It is promiscuous in its disciplinary relations, while keeping faith with its founding values and vision of the E and the F in its acronym; undisciplined, so to speak, but sure of itself and "bien dans sa peau" -- comfortable in its own skin and not timid to share it with others.
The E and the F in SIEF, ethnology and folklore studies, belong to the extended family of anthropological sciences. They are fieldwork-based and historically informed, grounded in archives and museums, conversant with texts as well as things and images. With a long-standing tradition of social engagement and public intellectuals, ethnologists and folklorists focus on vernacular culture and everyday life and they concern themselves in particular with cultural forms, their uses and social circulation: whether these forms are material or verbal, aural or visual, textual, spatial, corporeal, or musical. By way of illustration, themes of recent SIEF congresses include Utopias, Realities, and Heritages (Zagreb 2015), Circulation (Tartu 2013), Ways of feeling the world (Lisbon 2011), and Liberating the ethnological imagination (Derry 2008).
SIEF has two professional, international journals that represent that state of the art in its field(s): Ethnologia Europaea, a subscription-based print journal founded in 1966, and Cultural Analysis, an Open Access online journal founded in 2000. Between congresses, SIEF's working groups also provide vibrant platforms for critical debate, networking, and exchange of information; they organize meetings and sponsor publications. We encourage you to take part in their work; all it takes to join one is an email message to one of the chairs. In addition to these, SIEF's website and its biannual newsletter provide updates, reports, and announcements of interest to scholars in its fields. Its videos provide various entry points to its field(s), documenting the ethnological sensations of SIEF scholars and explaining European Ethnology in three and a half minutes: the what, the why, the when, and the how.
Our fields are nothing if they are not international. The important conversations that take us forward are carried out across national borders. SIEF helps us have these conversations. That sums it up; that's the crucial importance of SIEF. Together, we are stronger. Together, we are more interesting.
The SIEF board is here is to help make these conversations happen and to give direction to the society's activities. As SIEF's president, I will lead that work to the best of my abilities.
But in the last analysis, it's all up to you. And if you ask me, that's cause for optimism.
Valdimar Tr. Hafstein