Course: Mesoamerican Foodways

HC 434H/421H

Professor: Analisa Taylor

Graduation Requirement: This class will fulfill both of the following requirements: an Arts & Letters Colloquium and an International Cultures multicultural class. If you have already taken an Arts & Letters Colloquium, this class will fulfill both of the following requirements: an Elective Colloquium and an International Cultures multicultural class.

At once a seed that relies on human manipulation to reproduce and a grain that can adapt itself to diverse human needs in countless climates and conditions, corn has played a central role in the development of Mesoamerican civilizations for thousands of years. Ironically, today’s high tech industrialized production and transnational commercialization of corn is now playing a central role in the contemporary diaspora of those Mesoamerican civilizations, whose traditional landraces of maize can not compete in local markets flooded with cheap, often genetically modified corn.

Through public art, essays, testimonios, music, and documentary films, we examine:

  1. The role of agriculture and food in forming cultural identities and political subjectivities in Mexico and in the Mesoamerican diaspora
  2. The connections these literary and visual works make between the bases of knowledge of ancient Mesoamerican civilizations and those of indigenous and mestizo peasant communities of today
  3. The representations of Mesoamerican civilization in art and literature as symbols acquiring new forms and meanings in our present moment of ascendency of what Gerardo Otero calls “the neoliberal food regime.”