DR. PATRICIA TURNER
While Dr. Patricia Turner has written extensively on a variety of topics, including quilting and Black images in culture, her excellent work on rumor and legend more than qualifies her for the Linda Dégh Liftetime Achievement Award.
Dr. Turner’s book, I Heard It Through the Grapevine: Rumor in African-American Culture (1994) is an important work in our field, demonstrating how misperceptions and stereotypes about African-American culture can turn into beliefs about that culture; she also demonstrates how trust and hesitancy among African-Americans is often justified because of how poorly they have been treated in the past. It clearly demonstrates that sometimes these beliefs are justified and it shows that the deficiency model of public health (which indicates that if only people had more education, they would trust public health information) is incorrect. The idea that belief in conspiracy theories and contemporary legends is strongly influenced by personal and historical experience was ahead of its time and continues to be relevant today.
Dr. Turner’s chapters on historical rumors in I Heard It Through the Grapevine demonstrate that these legends have existed for a long time and versions of them continue to exist to this day. Dr. Turner’s book Rumors on the Color Line: Rumor and Race in America (with Gary Alan Fine, 2001) is also an excellent contribution to our work as contemporary legend scholars. Anand Prahlad rightfully called it an “indispensable addition” (2003, 411-412).
Also indispensable is her article “Respecting the Smears: Anti-Obama Folklore Anticipates Fake News” which was included in JAF’s special issue on fake news. Dr. Turner has recently completed a book on Obama legends, titled Trash Talk: Anti-Obama Lore and Race in the Twenty-First Century, which will be excellent if her past presentations at ISCLR on the topic are any indication.