Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationVanderbilt U.
Grant numberGr. 10291
Approve DateApril 13, 2022
Project TitleCuj, Miguel (Vanderbilt U.) "Maya Foodways and Cultures of Nutrition"
Food is more than a nutritional substance; in Maya communities in Guatemala, it is the cornerstone of religious, cultural, and social life. By exploring how food is allocated and organized in a K’iche’ Maya community, this research will employ a framework of ‘foodways’ to analyze the complex interplay of cultural and material dimensions that inform local cultural models of food consumption. Critical to the management of foodways are K’iche’ women, who are largely in charge of preparation and who act as the arbiters of the symbolic complexity and its social importance. This research proposes that K’iche’ women’s foodways result from a dynamic relationship between material conditions and socio-linguistic concepts around food. This research will employ ethnographic and pragmatic linguistic research methods, including dietary records, in-depth interviews, and participatory observation. Data collected will be on both the material and sociolinguistic conditions that factor into K’iche’ women’s decisions about feeding. Pile sorts and cultural consensus analysis will also be used to identify elements of food organization an understanding of the cultural contexts of food procurement and consumption. This research will contribute to the anthropology of food and nutrition while also uncovering the particular Maya aspects of food provisioning and consumption.