Peter Narváez – 2006
For over thirty years Peter Narváez has been an important figure in the field of Canadian folklore/ethnology and has made many outstanding contributions. I would like to highlight here some of his many contributions to Canadian folklore studies in the areas of research, teaching and communication.
Dr. Narváez’s academic productivity is impressive. He is the author of over seven books and edited collections/journals, approximately sixty articles, and he has presented over seventy invited lectures and conference papers. He is a leading authority on blues and has written and lectured extensively on this speciality. Additionally, much of his academic work has explored aspects of Newfoundland culture, cutting across genres that include folk music, folksong, custom, belief, narrative, popular culture and occupational folklife. One of his most important projects in terms of promoting Canadian folklore/ethnology took the form of a special issue of the Journal of American Folklore devoted to “Folklore in Canada” that he edited with Dr. Pauline Greenhill in 2002.
For thirty years Peter Narváez has been an integral part of the Department of Folklore at Memorial. Here he has made an exceptional contribution to Canadian folklore/ethnology through his exemplary mentoring of hundreds of students through both their introduction to our discipline as undergraduates and by guiding their graduate work at both the MA and PhD levels. From experience I can say that consistently he has been a voice of support for the student experience and at his retirement gathering it was remarked that due to his assistance many students have gone on to excel in their field. He has been a sought after graduate supervisor and examiner and in the last year served as a graduate administrator for the Folklore Department.
He developed and/or taught approximately twenty courses during his time at Memorial and gained a deep knowledge of several areas so that he was regarded as the departmental expert in folkloristic theory, popular culture, and occupational folklife, as well as in his own musical specialities. His high academic standards were well known within the department.
Dr. Narváez has helped create and sustain many intellectual links within and outside of Canada through his regular participation at meetings of the American Folklore Society, the International Association for the Study of Popular Music as well as the Folklore Studies Association of Canada. Some of his work has specifically fostered the development of the discipline within Canada. For example, at Memorial University, he was instrumental in the creation of a Canada Research Chair and then a graduate program in Ethnomusicology. On the national level, he has been an active member of FSAC/ACEF for nearly thirty years and served as President in 1991-1992.
Peter Narváez has worked tirelessly to make collected folklore accessible to Canadians. He has been actively involved with the Memorial University Folklore and Language Archive on a number of levels over his decades at the university. His career has included many CBC programs where he has acted in the role of researcher, script writer and/or announcer. For example, in 1989 he created an Ideas series for CBC radio on fairy belief. He has produced six sound recordings, including a 1999 CD of the music of Dorman Ralph, a musician who he had recorded extensively. If this all isn’t enough, Peter Narváez is an accomplished blues musician and composer and in 2003 he was East Coast Music Awards nominee for “Blues Artist of the Year.”
Poignantly I make this nomination on Peter Narváez’ last full day at Memorial University before retirement. He has been a wonderful colleague and friend to those of us at Memorial so it was not surprising that when others in the department heard of my intention to submit this nomination, they expressed their desire to support it. With the unanimous support of all his colleagues in the Department of Folklore, I am delighted to nominate Dr. Peter Narváez for the Marius Barbeau Award that recognizes a remarkable contribution to folklore and ethnology.
Department of Folklore
Memorial University of Newfoundland