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Folklore and Folklife

When English antiquarian William J. Thoms introduced his new coinage “folk-lore” in 1846, he intended it as a “good Saxon substitute” for “popular antiquities,” a Latinate term that referred to the manners and customs of the “olden time.” Although subsequent folklore scholars have recognized that their subject is an ever-changing, modern phenomenon, the association of folklore with antiquity has often sent folklorists to people and places that seem to lie outside the mainstream of cultural development and where, they assume, a way of life untouched by modernization and globalization endures. In the United States, the “folk” were those who lived in isolation as a result especially of geography but sometimes of ethnicity or another distinguishing factor. Arkansas, especially its Ozark …

Food and Foodways

Because nutrition is essential to human survival, the production and consumption of food has been central to life in what is now Arkansas for more than ten thousand years. Evolving social customs dictate when, where, and how food is presented. Because of Arkansas’s ties to rest of the South, as well as to the Southwest and Midwest, the core components of local food preparation followed traditional “American” lines, with little impact being felt from the small immigrant population. The globalization of food, mostly via restaurants, came generally after 1960. Prehistory The first humans in Arkansas, the Paleoindians, were hunter-gatherers. Despite Arkansas’s lack of excavated and analyzed sites, evidence from adjacent areas suggests that besides hunting the now-extinct mega animals (mammoths, …