SIEF: International Society for Ethnology and Folklore

The International Society for Ethnology and Folklore – SIEF – is a multidisciplinary organization that brings together scholars from the fields of ethnology and folklore studies and neighboring disciplines, within the larger family of anthropological and cultural-historical disciplines.

SIEF provides a platform for critical debate, networking and exchange; builds infrastructures for intellectual collaboration; supports young scholars; and moves forward the fields that it represents. The organization has more than 1000 members from around 50 different countries: researchers, (university) teachers and students, as well as members from applied fields such as archivists, museum and heritage professionals and others.


Once every two years, SIEF organizes a large international conference. In 2023 the theme is “Living Uncertainty”, and it will take place from 7-10 June 2023 in Brno, Czech Republic. SIEFs thematic working groups organize their own conferences and workshops in the interim years.


SIEF has two peer-reviewed open access journals: Ethnologia Europaea and Cultural Analysis. A newsletter informing members about current developments is published twice a year. SIEF’s communicative activities also include videos and video series published on the website. “What is European Ethnology” is often used in higher education as an introduction to ethnology. In the video series “Ethnological Sensations”, more than 50 members of SIEF describe in short episodes what made them fascinated by the discipline of ethnology. Currently, the new video series “Ethnological Matterings” is published in which ethnologists explain how they apply their knowledge in society.

Role of science in society

SIEF is an advocate of academic freedom and is convinced of the crucial role of science in society. The organization helps to make the public aware of the social relevance of the knowledge that is brought together within SIEF. SIEF is a strong proponent of the use of ethnological knowledge, skills and perspectives in society. It is a UNESCO accredited NGO and is represented in the steering committee of the ICH-NGO forum.


SIEF promotes the internationalization of higher education in ethnology and folklore studies and facilitates collaboration. Every second year, SIEF offers an international Summer School for PhD students. The SIEF Young Scholar Prize for a scientific article in the field of ethnology and folklore studies is awarded once every two years to a young researcher.


SIEF has an international board. The secretariat, headed by the vice president (currently, in 2023, this is prof. dr. S. Elpers), is located at the Meertens Institute. The Meertens Institute also stores the rich archive of SIEF that tells about the history of the organization that celebrated its Golden Jubilee Symposium in Amsterdam in 2014: SIEF was founded in 1964 as a successor to CIAP, Commission des Arts et Traditions Populaires.

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ACEE: Amsterdam Center for European Ethnology

The Amsterdam Center for European Ethnology (ACEE) is a coordinating platform for research and higher education in the field of European Ethnology. It stimulates scientific exchange and cooperation between researchers. The focus is on the interdisciplinary research of cultural practices in daily life in their social, historical and geographical context in the Netherlands and Europe. This research is carried out from both a historical and comparative perspective. It employs methods and theories from ethnology, anthropology and history. In its research European Ethnology uses a bottom up, non-institutional perspective, including the analysis of apparently trivial cultural practices and aspects of everyday human behavior.

Significant social-cultural, economic and political changes in modern Europe have influenced communities strongly. Identity, ethnicity, heritage and history have become key concepts in these processes. These concepts are not understood as abstract ideas, but as subjects that arise from and are given meaning in the experiences of people in their everyday life. Globalization, unification, decolonization and migration have brought about a different way of dealing with the (un-)certainties of everyday life. In order to cope with these (un-)certainties or – in contrast – to internalize them people have a need for rituals, feasts, popular music, nostalgia, new identities or alternative religious movements. These are all topics that fit within the research framework of ACEE. As European Ethnology works from a historical-ethnological perspective, it also studies the dynamics of, for instance, emotions, material heritage and religious culture in the past.

ACEE is based at the Meertens Institute, which researches everyday language and culture in the Netherlands.