Everyday people, learning together, sharing cultural expression to make long-term change.

 The Southwest Folklife Alliance brings a folklorist’s lens to Participatory Action Research (PAR). 

We welcome you to this learning space. Deepen your understanding of Participatory Action Research, connect to community-based traditions and folklife, and discover how a folklife approach to participatory research can open up space for creativity, community wellbeing, self-determination, social change, radical imagination and racial justice. 

The Folklife PAR Network was initiated through a partnership with the Surdna Foundation’s Thriving Cultures program, which aimed to invest in researchers of color to interpret and disseminate knowledge about the work of artists and to build more equitable research infrastructures. Ongoing partnerships with Surdna and with the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture sustain this work. 

Participatory Action Research (PAR)

Participatory Action Research: 

Participatory Action Research (PAR) challenges the idea that only academics or trained professionals can do research. It recognizes that people whose lives are most affected by inequities, barriers, and problems already hold deep knowledge through their own lived experience. Information is power, and through PAR, everyday people can learn to reflect on, investigate, share, and analyze their own situation to produce accurate information. That information can then inform collaboration action to create lasting solutions and change.

Southwest Folklife Alliance (SFA)

Our mission is to build more vibrant and equitable communities by celebrating the everyday expressions of culture, heritage, and diversity in the Greater Southwest. While we utilize the tools of the folklorist to document culture, our north star is not the production of ethnographies, but the creation of a plural society, free of racial discrimination, violence, cultural and economic inequity.

Our work matters when:

  • There is respect for the everyday cultural expressions within communities, particularly the less invisible practices that bring meaning to our lives;
  • Communities and neighborhoods are utilizing the tools of cultural documentation to build social capital and strengthen democratic participation;
  • Residents across a broad spectrum of ethnic, racial, social and economic levels learn skills of cultural documentation for personal enrichment and social action;
  • Cultural partners and advocates come together to increase collaboration and craft innovative culture based models to address intractable social problems.

Southwest Folklife Alliance (SFA) is an affiliate non-profit organization of the University of Arizona, housed within the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, and the designated Folk Arts Partner of the Arizona Commission on the Arts with the support of the National Endowment of the Arts.