Narrowed Research Idea

I would like to focus on how the gastronomy of indigenous Latin American communities were impacted by the enforcement of European norms and ideas surrounding cuisine, health, morality, and other elements of society. I will hone in on a specific area of Latin America to examine a smaller-scale interaction between Spanish colonizers and an indigenous community, potentially by analyzing a specific case in New Spain. I think food can be an extremely meaningful piece of material culture that can show us a lot about colonial influence. While some may think that this was a simple clash of cultures that brought about an equal mixing between indigenous and Iberian techniques and ingredients, what I have learned about in this course shows that the complexities embedded within power dynamics, namely through violence and erasure, result in a far more complicated history and reality. I also may decide to focus on the chili as a specific food item to investigate, but I think I will narrow that down based on what I find to be most prevalent in the literature I encounter.

I can use the Hernán Cortéz passage in the last Victors and Vanquished assigned reading as a primary source to show how colonizers perceived the differences in culture and customs, specifically with regard to food and dress. Another primary source I could use would be Christopher Columbus’ encounter with aji chilli in the reading from Bauer’s Goods, Power, History. 

Below are some secondary sources that I found that will bolster my understanding of indigenous gastronomy and the impact of colonization and internalized sentiments of deviance or inferiority brought about by colonizers on indigenous peoples:

  • Gran Cocina Latina: The Food of Latin America, by Maricel Presilla (cookbook)
  • “Beyond Culinary Colonialism: Indigenous Food Sovereignty, Liberal Multiculturalism, and the Control of Gastronomic Capital”, by Sam Grey and Lenroe Newman
  • Que vivan los tamales! : Food and the Making of Mexican Identity, by Jeffrey Pilcher
  • “Indigenous Peoples’ Nutrition Transition in a Right to Food Perspective”, by Siri Damman, Wenche Barth Eide, and Harriet V. Khnlei

3 thoughts on “Narrowed Research Idea

  1. Jaz

    Miki, this is a cool idea. I think your sources are varied and I would be interested to see if you could find any primary source documents from indigenous people about their own food. Additionally, are you looking at a specific group? Maybe mention that group instead of using the broad Latin American term. 🙂

  2. Luca Napora

    This sounds like a really interesting research idea. I think it will be especially interesting to focus on the effects of how Europeans ideas about food impacted the natives, because that aspect is traditionally ignored in favor of the kinds of foods that were introduced.

  3. Katie Holt

    Great ideas (and high-quality sources) Miki! As you learn more, I think it will help to narrow to a geographical region / few specific food examples. Great topic for an image-rich presentation format!


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