With the generous support of the Penelope Mason Dissertation Research Award and the Friends of Art History Dissertation Research Award, doctoral candidate Lesley Wolff conducted research toward the advancement of her dissertation at Duke University and multiple institutions in Mexico this summer. Wolff’s project, “¡Guerra al metate! The Visuality of Foodways in Postrevolutionary Mexico City (1920 – 1960),” advised by Dr. Michael Carrasco, considers how the visual and material realities of foodways shaped and responded to nationalist attitudes in postrevolutionary Mexico City.
In May, Wolff spent one week researching postrevolutionary Mexican magazines and journals, such as Mexican Folkways, Multicolor, and Fantoche, at the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Duke University. After then presenting a paper related to her dissertation at the Association for the Study of Food and Society Annual Conference at the University of Toronto, Scarborough, in June, Wolff traveled to Mexico City in July for four weeks of research in museums, archives, libraries, and other heritage sites across the region. Among other institutions, Wolff spent extensive time at the Fundación Herdez, Archivo Histórico del Distrito Federal, Museo Nacional de Arte, and Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporáneo.
Wolff also connected with historians, curators, writers, and chefs while in Mexico, each of whom introduced her further to the historically rich and entangled connections between artistry and foodways in the region. Wolff’s research included photographing the little-known Mercado Abelardo Rodríguez, a day of preparing the seasonal dish chiles en nogada at a fine-dining restaurant, and a visit to a traditional food festival in the state of Tlaxcala with chefs and food writers. Wolff is grateful for the unique opportunity afforded to her by these departmental research awards. She now looks forward to synthesizing the information, images and documents she gathered during her travels and making progress toward the completion of her dissertation.