Monmouth / Academics / Faculty Profile

Amber O'Connor

Academic Biography:

Current research interests involve researching how processes designed to promote cultural diversity seem to instead constrain individual creative endeavors. In particular I am focused on the impacts of UNESCO’s recognition of the indigenous cuisines of Mexico as “Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity” and the re-imagining of authentic “Maya” cuisine by the tourist industry in Quintana Roo and the greater Yucatan peninsula.

My theoretical area of specialization within food studies is rooted in anthropology with a significant background in gender, identity performance, formation of social hierarchies and conversion theory particularly situated within indigenous Mesoamerica.

Consuming the Maya: An Ethnography of Eating and Being in the Land of the Caste Wars, my dissertation, was an ethnography describing how foodways are becoming important tools in identity manipulation in a Maya village recently impacted by evangelical religions, wage labor, and tourism.

Research Interests:
Food Studies/Gastronomy, Mesoamerica, Yucatec Maya, Identity Formation, Religious Conversion, Gender, Social Stratification, Heritage Foodways

Selected Research and/or Creative Work:


Forthcoming. “Teaching Communication and Language with Food” In Teaching Food in Anthropology: Experiences, Challenges, and Techniques. Richard Wilk and Candice Swift Eds. Left Coast Press.

2014. “Heritage Foodways: Reproducing Identity” in Anthropology News. March.

2012. “Conversion in South Eastern Quintana Roo: Changes in Religion, Community, Economy and Nutrition in a Maya Village”. In Food, Culture and Society 15.1. UK: Berg Publishing. Peer-Reviewed.

2010. “Maya Foodways: A Reflection of Gender and Ideology” In Pre-Columbian Foodways: Interdisciplinary Approaches To Food, Culture, and Markets in Mesoamerica. Eds. John E. Staller and Michael D. Carrasco. Springer NY.

Papers Presented at Professional Meetings:

2013 (Panel Organizer) "Food in Discourse and Practice" American Anthropological Association. Chicago, IL. November 2013. International.

2013 (Presenter) “The Habitus of the Tortilla: Theories of Identity and Globalization in Quintana Roo” Traditions and Transformations: An Interdisciplinary Food Studies Conference. California State University. Fullerton, California. April 18-21. Regional.

2012 (Presenter) “The Habitus of the Tortilla” Global Gateways and Local Connections:Cities, Agriculture, and the Future of Food Systems. Joint 2012 Annual Meetings & Conference of the Agriculture, Food, and Human Values Society (AFHVS), Association for the Study of Food and Society (ASFS), & Society for Anthropology of Food and Nutrition (SAFN). New York University and The New School. NYC, New York. June 20-24. International.

2011 (Poster Session) “Conversion in Central Quintana Roo: Changing Habits of Consumption and Identity Production”. The 2011 Maya Meetings. Austin, Texas: The University of Texas at Austin. March 26-27. International. Poster funded by the Mesoamerican Graduate Student Association.

2010 (Presenter) “Contemporary Religious Conversion in Quintana Roo: Changes in Religion, Communalism, Economy and Nutrition in a Maya Village” 6th Conference of Food Representation in Literature, Film and the Other Arts. San Antonio, Texas: The University of Texas at San Antonio. February 25-27. Regional/Local.

Courses Taught:
ANTH103 Intro to Cultural Anthropology
ANTH288 Cultures of Mexico

Ph.D. The University of Texas 2014

Contact Info:
Office: Rm 2 Wallace Hall