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Tracing immigrant identity through the plate and the palate


This article brings together scholarship on foodways and identity with discourses of sustainable and local food to illuminate the food practices of Latino/a immigrants living in Seattle, WA. Drawing upon 4 years of ethnographic research, this article argues that migration and placemaking impact the maintenance of culturally meaningful foodways and that reclaiming and reshaping one's foodways plays a central role in both longing for home and building new lives in the United States. Through describing how Latino/a foodways often parallel, yet remain marginal to, the values and priorities of the movements for sustainable and local food, I make the case for more inclusive food movement advocacy.

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  1. 1.

    See Howenstine (1989) and Miller (1991).

  2. 2.

    For an extended discussion of the notion of “liminality,” see Limón (1982), Peña (1997; esp. Chapter 7) and Turner (1969).

  3. 3.

    For more information on my efforts to make this research applied and share my data with non-academic stakeholders, I encourage readers to contact me by email.


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I would like to express my thanks to the editors of this journal and the three anonymous reviewers for their tremendously helpful feedback on earlier drafts of this article. This article draws upon research generously funded by a dissertation fellowship from the American Association of University Women and the Stroum Endowed Minority Fellowship from the University of Washington.

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Mares, T. Tracing immigrant identity through the plate and the palate. Lat Stud 10, 334–354 (2012).

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  • immigration
  • foodways and identity
  • local and sustainable food