Tag Archives: Research

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

Sources and Ideas

I’m still not 100% decided on my question, however, I know the topic is going to include the use of cartography in this era of colonialism. My list of sources isn’t final, but I’ve been looking at using the following:

My primary source will probably be Universalis cosmographia secundum Ptholomaei traditionem et Americi Vespucii aliorumque lustrationes. (Its a mouthful, but it is a map from around 1507, with perhaps the first depiction of the Americas.)

My secondary sources are a little less unique:

Urban Cartography in Latin America during the Colonial Period.

Cartography and Power in the Conquest and Creation of New Spain.

Cartography as a Tool of Colonization.

Theory and the History of Cartography.

Analyzing “The End of Atau Wallpa”

My research will explore the ways in which historical events are recorded, and how the Indigenous peoples in Latin America performed colonialism in the form of conquest dramas. I will be analyzing the play The End of Atau Wallpa and comparing it to European documents about the fall of Atahualpa in Peru. The significance of this is two-fold: providing another source to Latin American theatre scholarship, and addressing the way historians marginalize the arts as valid sources.

I am considering utilizing the following secondary sources:

Theatre and Cartographies of Power: Repositioning the Latina/o Americas by Jimmy A. Noriega and Analola Santana.

Stages of Conflict: A Critical Anthology of Latin American Theatre and Performance edited by Diana Taylor and Sarah J. Townsend.

Performing Conquest: Five Centuries of Theatre, History, and Identity in Tlaxcala, Mexico by Patricia A. Ybarra.

The essay “Colonial Literature and Social Reality in Brazil and the Viceroyalty of Peru: The Satirical Poetry of Gregorio de Matos and Juan del Valle y Caviedes.” By Lucia Helena S. Costigan, in the book Coded Encounters: Writing, Gender, and Ethnicity in Colonial Latin America.

A painting, Pizzaro Sizing the Inca of Peru (1846) by John Everett Millais.
History’s Peru: The Poetics of Colonial and Postcolonial Historiography by Mark Thurner

Potential Research Topic

So far this semester, I have been intrigued by the effect of European colonization on Native people’s perception towards their use of crops, agriculture, and eating habits. Obviously, we have seen how native people internalized sentiments of inferiority in relation to colonizers and therefore shifted many of their practices, and I would doubt that this did not also extend to the gastronomy of the indigenous people of Latin America. I would also analyze food and recipes as material culture to see how they have been preserved and/or lost over time.

Therefore, I would pose the question, How did the enforcement of new norms and laws throughout society by European colonizers impact the gastronomy of indigenous Latin American peoples?