Food & Culture: Brazilian Food Systems Field School
General Description / Special Programs

To study food and eating is to study a universal but complicated part of the human experience. What are the realities of food security in developing countries like Brazil, but also in developed countries with industrialized foods and alternative food movements? A more difficult question is how are these realities perceived and experienced by people who consume or produce food, given their assumptions about sex, identity, ethnicity, religion, politics, gender, economics, nationalism, and family?

This course surveys food practices in Brazil and introduces the basics of Food Theory to answer these and other questions. While class readings and student-led discussions will focus on the “culture of food” and globalized networks of food and power, critical reasoning will help students achieve greater perspective about our relationship with what we eat back home. Students will plan, execute, and analyze their own ethnographic research on a food-related topic.

Program Highlights

  • Harvest bananas while learning about sustainable agriculture
  • Live and cook with homestay families in Sao Paulo 
  • Visit a mountain-side community established by runaway slaves to learn about medicinal herbs and land rights
  • Learn about forest-to-fork food chains, environment and health, food as culture, commodity globalization and indigeneity
  • Live in the rainforest, visit city markets, take a coffee-tasting tour, and more!

Meet the Professor

Dionisios Kavadias specializes in different cultural understandings of the body and family life by studying local foodways. He has a master’s degree in social science from the University of Chicago and a PhD in cultural anthropology from the University of Virginia for research on the economic, medical, and religious uses of family-made olive oil among farmers in southwestern Greece. Drawing from experience teaching anthropology in places such as India, South Africa, and Brazil, his courses on food culture, medical anthropology, spirituality, and globalization emphasize the relationship between global systems and personal experiences, especially as a way to understand the box we try so hard to think outside of. 

Dionisios has been recognized for achievements in both writing and teaching, but his favorite forms of communication are music and food.

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