Opening lecture in Latino/Latin American Studies series Sept. 16

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September 1, 2020


Sandra Aguilar-Rodríguez

The first lecture in the Latino/Latin American Studies fall 2020 series will have participants turning to cookbooks.

“Nutrition, Race and Gender in Mexico” will be presented by Sandra Aguilar-Rodríguez at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 16 via Zoom. Please register in advance for this webinar. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

It’s the first of four presentations in the semester-long series, which examines “Race, Gender and Power in Latin America.”

Aguilar-Rodriguez will analyze cookbooks and nutrition advice published between 1920-30 in Mexico in order to show how ideas of race and gender were reproduced by middle-class experts. Indigenous and rural culture were portrayed as inferior, while practices identified with the United States and Europe were presented as superior and as the ideal to follow.

Aguilar-Rodríguez is an associate professor in Latin American history at Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Her research focuses on food and foodways, gender, class, race and modernization in 20th century Mexico.

The relationship communities and cultures have with food has always been of interest to Aguilar-Rodríguez, according to the Moravian College website, “Inside Moravian.”

She grew up in Mexico City, but in 2002 left for England to pursue a master’s degree in Latin American studies at the University of Oxford, then a Ph.D. in women’s studies at the University of Manchester.

While in Great Britain, Aguilar-Rodríguez “was forced to explore her own relationship with food,” according to the website.

“I am very interested in food, consumption and the process of modernization and how it affects our relationship to food,” Aguilar-Rodríguez told the website. “When I lived in Mexico, I was fascinated to observe the migration of people from the country to the cities and the effect of that change on human interaction with food.”

“For me, food at the University was very bland,” she told the website. “I couldn’t imagine eating in the cafeteria for six years, so I learned to cook.

“Learning to cook and discovering other food cultures in the very international environment in which she lived further awakened Aguilar-Rodríguez’s appetite for the study of food and food consumption within today’s communities and particularly among lower-income households,” the website concluded.

Her work has been published in various journals and books, both in the U.S., the United Kingdom and Latin America, such as the Radical History Review, The Americas and Food, Culture and Society, and the edited books “Technology and Culture in Twentieth Century Mexico” and “Gastronarratives.”