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Many twentieth-century ethnographic accounts of the rural Yucatec Maya analyze the accruement of culinary knowledge as a crucial part of the process of socialization, by which children become adults (e.g., Gaskins 2003; Greene 2002). Indeed, in the rural town of Juubche, fairly predictable culinary milestones continue to mark the lives of girls and women. Some young women, however, are using their access to new foods and related knowledge to challenge both local hierarchies of expertise and ideologies of racial difference. For many young women in Juubche, there is a link between consuming new foods and identifying oneself with larger Yucatecan and Mexican cultures. Yet, rather than disavowing their rural Yucatec Maya community, these women are establishing themselves as versatile and respected members of that community. Part of this process entails identifying oneself as someone who can manage new foods and successfully integrate them into the everyday rhythms of local life. In doing so, these women render themselves local culinary experts and expand the possibilities of alimentary pleasure for themselves and for their community. They are also reshaping a cosmology already in flux as they and these new foods complicate understandings of the body and the universe.


The item available for download is a manuscript version of a book chapter in Food and Identity in the Caribbean, edited by Hanna Garth and published by Bloomsbury Academic in 2013. The book is available here for purchase.

The author was a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Chicago at the time of publication.