Food Markets of Oaxaca (southern Mexico); Culinary Heritage, Gender and the Slow Food Movement

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 6:00 PM
Room: 424
Oral Presentation
Renata Ewa HRYCIUK , Department of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology, University of Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland
In 2010 traditional Mexican cuisine - ancestral, ongoing community culture -  was inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity of UNESCO. Significant element of the indigenous culinary heritage of Mexico is the pre-Hispanic institution of a food market (tianguis).

The southern state of Oaxaca - characterized by its ethnic and cultural heterogeneity and rich biodiversity - is famous for its regional cuisine considered to be the most sophisticated in Mexico and well established network of traditional markets. Nowadays, those lively, highly gendered spaces are not merely tourist attraction but still form a crucial part of local economy and communal life.

At the same time, new styles and spaces of food consumption have emerged in the region due to advances of globalization and intensified processes of human mobility (migration, tourism, growing expatriate communities etc.). One of them is recent, western trend of ‘slow food’ markets, shops and cafes established in gentrified urban spaces as well as middle class suburbs of the state capital.

Based on the results of fieldwork carried out in 2011 and 2014 in the central part of the state of Oaxaca (Valles Centrales) this paper analyzes the ambiguous relation between two seemingly similar, but heavily diversified along gender, class and ethnic/national lines patterns and ideologies of consumption that can be observed in contemporary marketplaces of Oaxaca City: traditional, indigenous/mestizo, peasant usage of food versus those promoted by the local branch of slow food movement connected with new, transnational urban lifestyle. Moreover, it points out the implications and dubious outcomes of the ongoing changes in Oaxacan urban foodways for indigenous communities and especially those who traditionally produce, cook and sell food at local markets – Indian women.