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:
Publications:

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:

2014 (Presenter) "Heritage and Hegemony in Culinary Tourism in Quintana Roo" American Anthropological Association. November 2014. Washington DC. International.

2014 (Presenter) "Pak'ach: Structuring the Feminine in Quintana Roo" Joint 2014 Annual Meetings and Conference of the Agriculture, Food and Human Values Society (AFHVS), Association for the Study of Food and Society (ASFS), & Society for the Anthropology of Food and Nutrition (SAFN). University of Vermont. Burlington, VT. June 2014. National.

2014 (Panelist) Hands to Head Megaroundtable: Doing Food Work to Teach Food Studies. Joint 2014 Annual Meetings and Conference of the Agriculture, Food and Human Values Society (AFHVS), Association for the Study of Food and Society (ASFS), & Society for the Anthropology of Food and Nutrition (SAFN). University of Vermont. Burlington, VT. June 2014. National.

2013 (Session Organizer, Presenting Author) “Obviously Imperceptible: Identity and the Tortilla in Quintana Roo”. Foodways in Discourse and Practice: A Discussion of Ethnographic Methods. 112th Annual Meeting of the AAA: Future Publics, Current Engagements. Chicago, Illinois. November 19-24. 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
ANTH 288 Anthropology of Food
INTG 203 Global Perspectives of Food

Education:
Ph.D. The University of Texas 2014

Contact Info:
Office: Rm 2 Wallace Hall
Email: aoconnor@monmouthcollege.edu