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The Florida Folklife Reader

The Florida Folklife Reader

Edited by Tina Bucuvalas
Katherine Borland
Tina Bucuvalas
Brent Cantrell
Martha Ellen Davis
Florida Folklife Program/Florida Department of State
Stavros K. Frangos
Gregory Hansen
Joyce M. Jackson
Ormond H. Loomis
Jerrilyn McGregory
Martha Nelson
Laurie K. Sommers
Robert L. Stone
Stephen Stuempfle
Anna Lomax Wood
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 240
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  • Book Info
    The Florida Folklife Reader
    Book Description:

    Florida is blessed with a semitropical climate, beautiful inland areas, and over a thousand miles of warm seas and sandy beaches. And Floridians are every bit as colorful and diverse as the tropical foliage. The interaction between Florida's people and its environment has created distinctive mixes of traditional life unlike those anywhere else in America.

    Florida's cultural foundation includes Seminoles, Anglo-Celtic Crackers, African Americans, transplanted northerners, and ethnic communities, as well as cultural syntheses developed from the sixteenth through nineteenth centuries in Key West, Tampa, St. Augustine, and Pensacola. In recent decades, the state's population has been strongly impacted by large-scale immigration from Cuba, South America, Central America, the Caribbean, Africa, and Asia. South Florida leads other regions in the development of a contemporary cultural synthesis, but Orlando and Tampa are rapidly evolving. Even sleepy north Florida is experiencing a significant shift.

    Although several books detail the traditions of specific Florida regions or folk groups, this is the first to provide an overview of Florida folklife.The Florida Folklife Readerbrings together essays written by folklorists, anthropologists, and ethnomusicologists on a wide array of topics. The authors examine topics as diverse as regional and ethnic folk groups, occupational folklife, the built environment, musical traditions, rituals, and celebrations.

    eISBN: 978-1-61703-142-7
    Subjects: Sociology, Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. xi-2)

    As a california ex-patriate, i approached my first ethnographic contract position in Florida with low expectations. In the 1980s, few Californians considered that they could exist elsewhere—and especially not in Florida, with its slow-driving retirees and right-wing refugees. I was to conduct an ethnographic survey of Miami-Dade County, with a special emphasis on Latin American culture, for the Florida Folklife Program. Peggy Bulger, who supervised the project, drove with me to Miami through a blinding tropical storm. She stayed long enough to introduce me to several neighborhoods and to the staff at the Historical Museum of Southern Florida, where...

  5. Key Largo to Marathon A Report on the Folklife of the Upper and Middle Keys
    (pp. 3-9)

    The historical museum of southern florida’s folklife program completed a project to survey the folklife of the Florida Keys in 1989. The last general survey of Keys culture was conducted in the 1930s when the WPA Writers’ Project documented folk arts throughout Florida, including the Keys. Since then, there have been only limited and sporadic efforts to research Keys folk arts.

    Long periods of isolation had a formative effect on the people of the Keys, often called “Conchs.” Many never left the islands until the completion of the railroad in 1912. The Conchs made their livelihood through the harvest of...

  6. African American and West Indian Folklife in South Florida
    (pp. 10-22)

    Present-day metropolitan miami, which encompasses most of Dade County, is an evolving environment that illustrates the historical flow of cultural ideas between diverse populations. The black population provides an excellent example of this diversity. Although the1980 Census Summary of the General Population Characteristicsreported that there were 280,434 blacks in the county, it did not mention that they came not only from the United States, but also from the Caribbean, Latin America, and Africa. In this essay, I will examine some aspects of the folk culture of two African Diaspora groups in Miami—African Americans and West Indians.


  7. The Patronal Festival of Vueltas in Cuban Miami “No One Loses, They Always Win!”
    (pp. 23-34)

    Like many other immigrant groups, Cubans in Miami have reconstructed parts of their social and political structure in order to negotiate the difficult transition between their past and their present. For decades, most Cubans regarded themselves as exiles with a limited tenure in this country rather than as immigrants. Thus, they held on tightly to previous forms of social organization. Moreover, the community’s large size (approximately 900,000 Cubans and Cuban Americans in south Florida) in combination with its concentration within a relatively small area (primarily Miami-Dade County and secondarily south Florida) also have contributed to the retention of many cultural...

  8. Michael Kernahan A Life in Pan
    (pp. 35-49)

    In a field of sawgrass behind a warehouse complex on the edge of Miami’s suburban Tamiami Airport, Michael Kernahan creates high-precision musical instruments, known aspans, from discarded oil and chemical barrels. He works in a small clearing under a tree that provides some limited shade. Assorted barrels are stacked around the space; some are full size, while others have been cut. A briefcase filled with metalworking tools rests on one barrel. From the edge of the clearing, a narrow path extends to another space, where pans are heated over a wood fire. In the distance is a third clearing,...

  9. Folklife of Miami’s Nicaraguan Communities
    (pp. 50-66)

    The nicaraguan community in miami is comprised of three distinct culture groups: the Creole peoples of the southern Atlantic coast, the Miskito population of the Rio Coco and Puerto Cabezas area, and the Mestizos of the Pacific coast. These communities do not have much contact across cultural lines. No overall Nicaraguan cultural organization unites them, and, though they share some foodways, their cultural heritages are quite distinct.

    The Creole population is perhaps the oldest Nicaraguan population in Miami. Most are professionals—nurses, teachers, accountants—and many came to study in the United States as early as the 1950s. Others have...

  10. Exploring Peruvian Music in Miami
    (pp. 67-83)

    The americas, north and south, are coming together. Their point of encounter is Miami, crossroads of the Americas. Five decades ago, Cubans laid the cornerstone for a Latin American presence in Miami. Today, every Spanish-speaking country in the Americas is represented in Florida and most, if not all, are in Miami.

    In the summer of 2001, all other Latin Americans taken together surpassed the number of Cubans in Miami. Among these other Latin Americans, the South Americans constitute a growing presence in the city. Colombians are the largest group (104,058 estimated in 2000 for Miami-Dade County alone).¹ Peruvians in Miami-Dade...

  11. The Seminole Family Camp
    (pp. 84-89)

    There is no better example of a traditional florida building type than thechickee, the traditional Seminole Indian building which has long been a part of Seminole life. Most Floridians recognize these structures and associate them with the Seminoles whether the name of the building and its background are familiar or not. Chickees provide an environment for the Seminole Folklife Area at the Florida Folk Festival.

    The Seminole Tribe of Florida has generously installed a temporary family camp on the festival grounds to serve as a base for interpretive demonstrations of several Seminole traditions. The crafts and foodways found among...

  12. Sacred Steel
    (pp. 90-95)

    Mention “steel guitar” and most people will think of the weeping sound of the instrument played in country music. Some might think of pedal steel guitars that are routinely found in white country gospel groups and church “praise” bands. Relatively few would know the electric steel guitar has been the dominant musical instrument for more than fifty years in certain African American Pentecostal churches.

    The electric steel guitar was introduced into the House of God in the late 1930s and eventually became the dominant musical instrument in its worship services. Over the years, House of God steel guitarists developed distinctive...

  13. Musical Practice and Memory on the Edge of Two Worlds Kalymnian Tsambóuna and Song Repertoire in the Family of Nikitas Tsimouris
    (pp. 96-153)

    Nikitas tsimouris (1924–2001) was one of a few dodecanese bagpipers still practicing at the end of the last century. Experts—who are as rare as the pipers themselves—considered him a master of his instrument, thetsambóuna. He was loved and revered in his family and community as a bringer of joy and keeper of tradition and was a living treasure of his adopted home, the state of Florida. Nikitas and his instrument were, however, the standard bearers of a whole universe of song, dance, and poetry shared and often governed by the women of his family, which spilled...

  14. Eternal Be Their Memory!
    (pp. 154-160)

    Among the many documented customs modern greeks continue to practice, as they have since classical times, are those related to observances for the dead.¹ Yet in all the academic accounts written about Greeks in North America, none mention, let alone describe in detail, the cemeteries established or sought out by the early pioneers and how they have been maintained by their descendants.² One especially noteworthy gathering of artifacts is found in the Cycadia Cemetery of Tarpon Springs, Florida.

    Named after the cycadia palms first planted to mark the cemetery grounds, this community institution was founded in 1886—one year before...

  15. Richard Seaman’s Presence within Florida’s Soundscape
    (pp. 161-177)

    In his home in jacksonville’s avondale neighborhood, richard Seaman told me that his homeplace in Kissimmee had burned to the ground long ago. He told me how different the community is from what it was like when he was born on the shore of Lake Tohopekaliga in 1904. He had been back there a few years ago in the 1990s, and he explained that a trailer court was built on the property that once belonged to his father, Lewis Seaman. The land is no longer in the family, he explained, because the property taxes were too high after Disney came...

  16. Legacy and Meaning in the Changing Sacred Harp Tradition of the Okefenokee Region
    (pp. 178-206)

    On may 4, 1958, singing school teacher silas lee, from hoboken, Brantley County, Georgia, took a small group of Sacred Harp singers to the stage of the Florida Folk Festival (FFF).¹ The singers had traveled from their homes in the Okefenokee region of southeast Georgia and northeast Florida to the festival site located in the north-central Florida community of White Springs. They sang three songs from theB. F. White Sacred Harp, Revised Cooper Edition, to the polite applause of the audience.² This was the first of two late 1950s appearances at the festival by the Hoboken group and the...

  17. Nativism and Cracker Revival at the Florida Folk Festival
    (pp. 207-224)

    The florida folk festival (fff) bills itself as the longest running state-supported folk festival in the United States. For the past fifty-nine years the festival has been the formally sanctioned institution for public display of Florida’s collective cultural traditions and multiple ethnic identities. Over time, music performances at the festival have come to be dominated by a group of revivalist musicians who are composers of “Florida Song.” Incorporating interlocking themes and stock images, Florida Song renders a nostalgic view of Florida’s frontier inhabited by Spanish explorers, Scots-Irish Crackers often working as cowboys, and the remnants of Creek Indians who evaded...

  18. “The Rest Is Up to You and Me” Sunday Morning Band and Ritual Identity in the Florida Panhandle
    (pp. 225-236)

    This essay seeks to illustrate some of the material, verbal, and ritual planes of reality that pervade African American life into death. Past scholars predicted that ritual performances would experience some erasure in modern life.¹ Yet, African Americans have ritualized social relationships into a repetitious cycle through the maintenance of organizations such as Sunday Morning Band (SMB). The SMB functions as a secret society, allowing for an interrogation into a rich array of culturally specific African American traditions that enable participants to experience a symbolic spiritual journey.

    The first SMB was organized in Columbia County, Florida, on August 8, 1868....

  19. Maritime Folklife
    (pp. 237-274)

    Florida’s teeming coastal waters and inland lakes and rivers have spawned two long-standing, vigorous, fishing traditions: one recreational and the other commercial. Both are important to the state, but despite its significance, the traditions of maritime occupations are often overlooked.

    Images of recreational fishermen are familiar to most—a child walking to the river carrying a cane pole and a can of worms, an angler attaching a bright fly to the line of his rod and reel, a scuba diver exploring a colorful coral reef. Opportunities for sport and relaxation have attracted countless recreational fishermen who have contributed to the...

  20. Selected Florida Folklife Bibliography
    (pp. 275-281)
    (pp. 282-286)
    (pp. 287-290)
  23. Contributors
    (pp. 291-295)
  24. Index
    (pp. 296-300)