Tortillas in Transformation: Domestic Change in Mexico

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Jonathan Hagood, Hope College

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The study of Mexican history reveals transformations of peoples and cultures. Over thousands of years of change, tortillas remain a constant presence. Most women in Mesoamerica planned and cooked the meals for their families with almost no help from the men in their household. Tortillas, the staple of most meals, take upwards of six hours to prepare every day. Not until the twentieth century did innovations make changes in tortilla making possible. By studying these changes we can analyze how the modernization of Mexico changed the expectations for Mexican women and domestic work. This study analyzes how these changes affected women by studying interviews and writings as well as looking at cookbooks. These sources reveal how the amount of time women spent making tortillas decreased with industrialization, but their responsibilities in the kitchen remained constant. Understanding this situation will give a greater understanding of gender roles and conflicts in Mexico. The transformation in tortillas will also reveal a mirrored transformation in Mexican industry and a striving for modernity.

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