Graduation Term


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


School of Communication

Committee Chair

John R. Baldwin


This thesis examines Mexican American foodways to determine if and how cultural identity is formed, performed, maintained, and negotiated through the lens of food. Foodways are a salient marker of cultural identity. While language of origin sharply decreases after the first generation, foodways can last for generations. An ethnographic examination of Mexican/Mexican American women preparing food provides insightful descriptions of family life and interpersonal processes that are useful for understanding and appreciating the culture of Mexican Americans and Mexican American identity. The communication theory of identity is applied to allow for examination of multiple layers of identity and identification of discrepancies or inconsistencies between the layers which can be problematic in interactions as well as cause depressive symptoms, negative emotions, and other adverse psychological outcomes. Personal-enacted-communal, enacted-relational-communal, and personal-enacted-communal identity gaps were found through the observation of foodways with four Mexican/Mexican American participants. In order to negotiate the differences between identity layers, participants avoided interaction with others, diminished the importance of others' ascriptions, and accepted values that are contradictory to the culture.


Page Count


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