Anna Graham, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Barra Dissertation Fellow in Art and Material Culture
I am an archaeologist and PhD candidate in Anthropology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. My project examines how American Indian communities in the Lower Mississippi Valley adopted maize into their existing cuisine around AD 1200. By studying the introduction of maize as a process, rather than as a singular event, my research considers the agency of communities as they experimented with, renegotiated, and maintained existing culinary practices throughout this food transition. I study the material remains of cuisine, including the types of plant foods consumed and the techniques and styles used to prepare and consume foods, as well as the social context of eating events, such as feasts or everyday meals. I focus on the specific food transition of maize adoption to explore the broader connections between subsistence and social systems, especially how shared identity and community relations are materially manifested in eating events.