Anthropology Professor Linda J. Seligmann received a Wenner-Gren Research Grant to pursue her project entitled “Women and Quinoa Foodways: Making Soup and Super-Food in the Peruvian Andean Highlands.” International recognition of quinoa as a healthy food and national interest in it for purposes of development have turned quinoa into an important commodity and source of foreign exchange. Given that Peru is now the world’s top exporter of quinoa, Seligmann’s research asks if and how women’s roles, activities, and associations with quinoa in a Quechua- and Spanish-speaking district of Andean highland Peru are undergoing changes. Although many have argued that the change in quinoa’s status has been deleterious to indigenous inhabitants, it is not clear that this is the case. Seligmann’s research project is based on close ethnographic research in order to determine whether or not the rise in the value of quinoa has been deleterious for women, what kind of agency they may be exerting in strengthening not only their own standing through their involvement with quinoa foodways, but also the well-being of their households and communities. It also asks how the assumptions, policies, and practices of non-governmental and state agencies that are promoting quinoa in the district are affecting women’s gender relationships. Rather than giving primacy to the economic value of quinoa, it assumes that quinoa’s economic, cultural, and political values are intertwined. Seligmann’s project aims to contribute to the anthropology of gender, the anthropology of culture and food, and to critical development theory.
May 09, 2017