Explorations: Afro-Latino Foodways Museum: A Class Final Project

Afro-Latino Foodways Museum: A Class Final Project
Monday 30 March 4:00 – 5:00 PM SLT (60 min)
Hosts: Meredith Abarca (abarcam Resident) and Janet Hill
UTEP Miners, Second Life

All museum exhibits tell a cohesive story. The final project for Dr. Meredith Abarca’s Literature of the Americas focused on “Afro-Latino Voices: History, Memory, and Food.” Students were exposed to the use and value of digital rhetorics to convey a cohesive story of the Afro-Latina/os through the lens of food.

The museum captures Afro Latino history and culture as these were and are represented via foodways – connecting history, memory, and food to personal and collective experiences. The narratives of slavery, agency, resistance, freedom, creative enterprise, and new beginnings are better remembered when these are communicated through enactments of the lives of individual people. Thus a number of students feature specific individuals in the museum exhibits. Through the stories of these people we are able to also explore the experience of a greater group.

By studying memoirs, recipes, photographs and other archival research, students created a virtual Latino Village representing an amalgamation of cultures from different historical periods and places in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Through this exploration, students underscore the cultural imprint found in African culinary knowledge marking the collective identity of a group that have come to be known as Afro-Latinos. This culinary imprint has had an influence at a national level. This project is timely because the continuation of Afro-Latinos is not always recognized, yet entire cultures and nations claim the food as “theirs.”

VWBPE Tour Activities:
The hosts will take explorers through the student created museum, discussing the narrative as well as the pedagogy behind the project, and students’ responses to creating visual and textual narratives in a virtual world.

Guiding questions:

  1. Literature and technology are not often thought of as going hand-in-hand, especially when one considers visual arts (such as the creation of a virtual world). How can instructors justify projects relying highly on visual narratives when designing courses? How does such a project benefit writing students?
  2. What are the challenges both instructors and students face when introducing a new technology driven pedagogy: particularly one that places students in the role of using technology as the medium by which to create representations of people’s lives.
  3. What steps need to be taken to effectively engage student to participate in the creation of a single project which reflects a collective intellectual and creative effort?

a. You will need to create a Second Life account at secondlife.com
b. Download a Second Life Viewer. Here is the URL to download Second Life’s default viewier: https://secondlife.com/support/downloads/