Food, Technology and Translocal Transformations of Taste: Industrial and Processed Food in Yucatán


Translocality as originally used by Arjun Appadurai was an evocative concept that appealed immediately to anthropologists and others who study global-local connections. Its use has been widely adopted in religious studies, music studies, migration studies and food studies, but it has continued to be rather undefined, which makes it difficult to apply to local data. Here, from the study of local food and gastronomy in the Mexican state of Yucatán, I investigate how translocality can help us look at the global in the local and the local in the global. I propose that when it comes to studying food and gastronomy in the Yucatán, translocality can help us understand the ways in which industrialization, which became both a production model and a way of life in the United States and Europe at the end of the nineteenth century, rapidly extended to food everywhere, and Yucatecans fondly took to the consumption of industrially produced and processed foods, incorporating them into the local gastronomy. The results, in terms of taste, have been extensive but are not particular to the Yucatán, since food and gastronomy everywhere have been impacted in similar ways. However, when we analyze the changes in local dishes and preparations, we can see how ubiquitous industrialized food has become and how it has affected the particular configurations of ingredients in Yucatecan cuisine.


Food; technology; translocality; taste; Processed food

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Published : 2020-12-31

Ayora-DíazS. I. (2020). Food, Technology and Translocal Transformations of Taste: Industrial and Processed Food in Yucatán. Review of International American Studies, 13(2), 103-121.

Steffan Igor Ayora-Díaz
Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán  Mexico

Steffan Igor Ayora-Díaz (PhD McGill University, 1993) is a socio-cultural anthropologist, currently Full Professor in the Faculty of Anthropology at the Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán. He has conducted research in Sardinia, Italy, and in Chiapas, Mexico. Since 2000, he has been conducting research on food, identity, regionalism, and taste in Yucatán, and, since 2016, in Seville, Spain. His current project focuses on innovation among restaurateurs and chefs in Yucatán and Seville. He is a member of the National System of Researchers in Mexico, Level II, and was a Fellow of the Society for the Humanities at Cornell University 2006–2007. Among other texts, Ayora-Díaz authored two monographs. The first one, dedicated to healers in Chiapas, came out in 2002; the second one, Foodscapes, Foodfields and Identities in Yucatán was published by Berghahn in 2012. He has edited seven collections, the most recent of which are Cooking Technology: Transformations in Culinary Practice in Mexico and Latin America (2016), and Taste, Politics and Identities in Mexican Food (2019), both published by Bloomsbury Academic. Currently, he is editing a new volume, The Cultural Politics of Food, Taste, and Identity: A Global Perspective, also for Bloomsbury Academic. Ayora-Díaz is also a co-author of the Spanish language volume, Cuisine, Music and Communication: Aesthetics and Technology in Contemporary Yucatán (UADY 2016).

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