The American Folklore Society, the U.S. based international professional society for the field of folklore, has awarded the 2008 Chicago Folklore Prize to Felicia McMahon’s Not Just Child’s Play: Emerging Tradition and the Lost Boys of Sudan, published in 2007 by the University Press of Mississippi.
The Chicago Folklore Prize is the oldest and among the most prestigious international awards of its kind for publishing in folklore. First awarded in 1928, the Chicago Folklore Prize is presented jointly by the AFS and the University of Chicago.
McMahon’s work focuses on Sudanese Di Dinga war refugees relocated to the United States—“The Lost Boys.” Because of the dislocations of war in Sudan, The Lost Boys, though now grown, were never properly initiated into manhood according to tribal custom and so are caught in a state of cultural childhood. Not Just Child’s Play calls attention to the Lost Boys’ attempts to preserve their native dance and ritual--transnational, cobbled-together, hybrid, but absolutely and authentically theirs.
The American Folklore Society’s review committee described Not Just Child’s Play as “multi-layered and thought-provoking, yet written in a clear and jargon-free prose.” The committee continues, lauding McMahon’s topic and research methods as “painfully relevant to us in an age of extended war, population displacement and economic globalization.”
Felicia R. McMahon is a research professor in anthropology at Syracuse University. A former Fulbright Scholar, she has published in several folklore journals and is the coeditor of Children's Folklore: A Sourcebook, which won an American Folklore Society Opie Prize for Best Edited Book.
Books published by University Press of Mississippi have been awarded the Chicago Folklore Prize in three of the last four years.