SFA conducts ethnographic work to deepen knowledge of culture and folklife in the borderlands. We also carry out shorter-term assessment studies to help institutions and organizations map community assets in order to make decisions and better serve the public.
Nogales Warehouse Work: The Occupational Folklore of Industrial Produce: While much research has been done on economic environmental and social effects of the maquiladoras on Mexican side of border, there is relatively little documentation of the produce industry on the U.S. side, an industry that has had a significant economic, cultural and social impact on Nogales and Santa Cruz County. Some 3,000 residents of Santa Cruz County work directly with the produce industry, with an additional 1,400 others employed in associated occupations such as gas stations and retail. Many produce brokers are involved in multigenerational, family-based enterprises. This project documents the experiences and histories of people working in the industry, from produce brokers to truck drivers to customs inspectors. It focuses on personal experience narratives, occupational technique, and local industry traditions, examining the impacts—past, present, and projected—of social and economic changes in the Arizona-Sonora borderlands. The project was conducted by 2016 folklorist in residence at SFA, with executive director Maribel Alvarez as the main mentor and coach.
UA South/Arizona Folklore Preserve
UA College of Social and Behavioral Sciences and the Nogales Castro House