The mission of folklore in the Southwest Center is to document, interpret, and disseminate knowledge about the representations and practices of everyday life in the Southwest US-Mexico borderlands in order to foster appreciation for place and being, a critical reflection on our expressive history, and enhanced opportunities for cultural equity and respect throughout the transborder region. This work is inspired by the legacy of Jim Griffith and sustained by the Jim and Loma Griffith Endowment.

Maribel Alvarez, Southwest Center folklorist and associate research professor, teaches folklore courses in the School of Anthropology and conducts research. Her public folklore activity is done under the auspices of the Southwest Folklife Alliance, the parent organization of the annual folklife festival founded by Jim Griffith, Tucson Meet Yourself.


Other current projects include J.C. Mutchler, associate research historian at the Southwest Center and Art professor Jackson Boelts'  work on Border Cowboys and Cowgirls, a cross-disciplinary examination of ranches and ranchers along the U.S.-Mexico border. Working with Sonoran photographer Alejandra Platt, the team is creating and documenting cultural narratives of our unique borderlands ranching heritage through oral histories, photography, and public history. David Burckhalter, photographer and research associate in the Southwest Center, is engaged in a long-range documentary study of Seri Indians of the northwest coast of Sonora, and Gary Nabhan, Kellogg Professor in the Southwest Center, continues to document and interpret regional foodways through his sustainable agriculture efforts and his Sabores Sin Fronteras project. And the effort of David Yetman and Dan Duncan in their documentary television work is, at its heart, an exploration of comparative regional folkways and folklife.