Maribel Alvarez

Associate Research Social Scientist and Associate Research Professor

Maribel Alvarez, Ph.D., is an anthropologist, folklorist, curator, and community arts expert who has documented the practice of more than a dozen of the country’s leading emerging and alternative artistic organizations. She is Associate Dean for Community Engagement for the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, is the Jim Griffith Chair in Public Folklore and Associate Research Social Scientist in the Southwest Center, and Associate Research Professor in the School of Anthropology.  She founded, and until recently served as executive director of the Southwest Folklife Alliance, an independent nonprofit affiliated with the University of Arizona. 

She teaches courses on methods of cultural analysis, with particular emphasis on objects, oral narratives, foodways, and visual cultures of the US-Mexico border. In the last few years, Maribel has written and published essays about poetry and food, intangible heritage, nonprofits and cultural policy, the theory of arts participation, artisans and patrimony in Mexico, and popular culture and stereotypes. In 2009 she was a Fulbright Fellow conducting research in rural Mexico.  Maribel was the co-founder and executive director for seven years of MACLA--Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana, a contemporary, alternative urban arts center in San Jose, once described as a “lab for intelligent cultural interventions.” Maribel is a trustee of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress; in addition, she has served as faculty for ten years at the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture’s summer Leadership Institute in San Antonio, TX. Currently, she is completing two book manuscripts for the University of Arizona Press, one on the verbal arts and lore of workers in the Mexican Curios cottage industry at the US-Mexico border, and another on the cultural history of wheat and flour mills in the state of Sonora in northern Mexico. Maribel was born in Cuba and came to the United States at the age of seven; she lived in Puerto Rico for eleven years before moving to California in 1980, where she became active in the Chicano arts community and multicultural arts movement of that decade.

Read Maribel´s article La Pared Que Habla in Journal of the Southwest