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Recipes for Modernity: The Politics of Food, Development, and Cultural Heritage in the Americas

abstract In the mid-20th century, food had become an important matter in the international order. The United Nations included the "right to food" in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and set up the Food and Agriculture Organization to work toward the goal of providing sufficient and nutritious food. Yet, food shortages and food riots across the world are testament to the fact that the international food order is still beset by steep inequalities.
This project examines food policies in Latin America as a means to investigate how that region has attempted to make modernization work for itself. Specifically, I propose to trace the diverse and shifting food policies in Latin America from the 1920s to the present. Food emerged in the 1920s as a field of policy across Latin America, as expanding state machineries engaged in technocratic, top-down modernization projects. From the beginning, food experts were tied into transnational professional communities and international organizations (the FAO, but also the Pan American Health Organization and Unesco) which analyzed the role of food and nutrition in the context of public health, education, and culture. These organizations were sites for the exchange of ideas and elaboration of international expert discourses and this project will work out the tensions between developmentalist approaches to food and the notion that foodways constitute cultural heritage worthy of protection.
Case studies at the national level will examine how these expert discourses were articulated in specific historical contexts, where market forces, mass media as well as political expedience shaped food policy and consumption. At the unexplored intersection of international history, Latin American history, and the history of food, this project will delineate the rise of technocratic, neo-liberal modernity and the constrained consumerist possibilities it offered to elaborate a more profound understanding of shifting food policies and consumption in Latin America.
   
keywords Latin American development, history of food and nutrition
   
partner
type fundamental research project
status ongoing
start of project 2010
end of project 2013
additional informations
topics History of food and nutrition, Latin American development, international organizations, NGOs
methods Multi-archival research
contact Corinne A. Pernet