It is with humility and sadness that we share our beloved teacher, elder, and Tucson Meet Yourself Folklife Festival co-founder, Dr. James S. “Big Jim” Griffith has transitioned from this earth. Big Jim passed quietly and peacefully at his home. His love for these lands and their cultures is a light that will continue to illuminate new ways to come together in community. Tucson Meet Yourself and the Southwest Folklife Alliance board and staff send our deepest condolences to the Griffith family, especially his wife and TMY co-founder, Loma.

Dr. Griffith was formerly the director of the Southwest Folklore Center at the University of Arizona, where he earned his PhD in cultural anthropology and art history and retired from a faculty position at the University in 1998, though he continued to teach and lecture on Southern Arizona folk arts throughout the region. 

He published numerous books, including A Border Runs Through It: Journeys in Regional History and Folklore (2011)and most recently, Saints, Statues, and Stories: A Folklorist Looks at the Religious Art of Sonora (2019). He will be remembered with a banjo in hand and field notebook in his pocket, and for his deep respect for the cultures and communities who call the Southwest and U.S.-Mexico Borderlands home. A celebration of his legacy will be planned in the New Year.

Descanse en paz.

¡Big Jim Presente!

Read and watch tributes to Big Jim here.

James “Big Jim” GriffithJ
July 30, 1935 — December 18, 2021

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