This lecture introduces the kitchen as a space of both communal exchange and arduous labor, from the spaces of food preparation in the Americas at the time of the European arrival to the start of the 20th century. The lecture presents the kitchen as a domestic, private space that contains multiple transnational narratives of trade, from raw materials to the migrating populations it employs in the modern era, minorities and women. A broader narrative arch traces the struggles of these populations, by examining the transformation of spaces used for the preparation and consumption of meals from a more holistic and collective space to an increasingly separate and discrete room. The goal of this lecture is for students to understand the transformation of the spaces used for food preparation and consumption vis-a-vis the social and cultural changes these spaces either reflect or try to enforce. In particular, we focus on the unstable nature of these activities and spaces, and the multiple alternative arrangements proposed over time to solve the problem of kitchen labor. Students are invited to reflect on the politics of the kitchen and how these might be arguably promoted or discouraged by particular spatial configurations. Where do the ingredients of their meals come from? How much labor was involved in transporting them to their table? Who cooks, and how much of this cooking is compensated or not? And how much have these roles changed over time?
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