Border Community Storytelling

Border Community Storytelling aims to collect, understand, and share the narratives, stories, and creative expressions of those living in and crossing through the US-Mexico border. Multiple collaborators share this storytelling work.

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Photo credit: Javier Brambila

Ethnographic training, research, and practice is supported by Southwest Folklife Alliance and VozFrontera, a center for youth engagement, leadership and local arts incubation based in Nogales, Arizona, and Nogales, Sonora. VozFrontera facilitates Ethnographic Fieldschools teaching oral history skills with Nogales youth, asset mapping in Agua Prieta/Douglas, and collaborates with Borderlands Theater Company, on research and production of the site-specific oral history theater piece Barrio Stories Nogales. In 2019, VozFrontera youth produced in the bilingual booklet “WasteNot: Stories of Waste, Re-Use, and Backyard Sustainability in Nogales and nearby,” and hosted a public event to address the issue of waste in Nogales and imagine a more sustainable future.

Oral testimonies from families of those who have been lost on the U.S.-Mexico border are being collected by Colibrí Center for Human Rights through their Historias y Recuerdos project. These testimonies serve both as healing and processing experiences, and a way to uplift and communicate these important stories to the public. These audio interviewed, edited and translated to English, serve to provide a more nuanced understanding of “the border” and migration for public audiences, and to inform higher education curriculum.

Artist microgrants support local artists on both sides of the border to creatively interpret the border life experience through various artistic forms. The governmental office of arts and culture Instituto Municipal de Fomento a la Cultura y las Artes (IMFOCULTA) located in Nogales, Sonora, MX, co-facilitates microgrants to artists in Sonora, MX, while Confluencenter for Creative Inquiry facilitates microgrants to border artists on the U.S. through their PandemiDiarios on the Border program.