Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationNorth Carolina, Chapel Hill, U. of
Grant numberGr. 9900
Approve DateOctober 25, 2019
Project TitleGraham, Anna (North Carolina, Chapel Hill, U. of) "Lower Mississippi Valley Cuisine and the Transition to Maize Agriculture (AD 900-1350)," supervised by Dr. Clara Scarry
ANNA GRAHAM,then a graduate student at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, was awarded funding in October 2019 to aid research on “Lower Mississippi Valley (LMV) Cuisine and the Transition to Maize Agriculture (AD 900-1350),” supervised by Dr. C. Margaret Scarry. This project investigated the relationship between food and social identity for native groups in the LMV during the transition to maize agriculture. The intensification of maize agriculture in the LMV is notable because it occured several hundred years after surrounding regions. Previous studies have focused on why LMV communities adopted maize, ignoring how maize was added to existing foodways. This project examined ceramics and plant remains from communal gathering spaces dating to three major periods surrounding this transition. Plant and ceramic evidence demonstrate a consistent cuisine through time, as communities made use of similar types of ingredients and cooking styles despite the addition of maize. However, contextual data indicate that the performance of community meals shifted from humble and integrative to fancy and prestige building. These findings demonstrate that a shared cuisine tradition remained important to LMV communities, despite shifting social relationships. Overall, this project demonstrates the dynamic relationship between continuity and change within cuisine practices through time.