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Advanced studies in Amerindian foodways


Admission requirements

Degree students (including Dutch BA graduates): BA degree (or equivalent) in Archaeology or a relevant discipline.

SAP and Exchange students: BA degree. Admission only after formal application.


This course adopts a long-term historical perspective to the indigenous ways of acquiring, producing, preparing, serving, exchanging, and conceptualising food in the indigenous Americas.
It discusses the basic theoretical concepts and definitions, examining the interdisciplinary methods and techniques used to recover and identify ancient food items and to study past foodways.
The presented case studies span the oldest archaeological registers and end with the continuities palpable in contemporary cuisine of the region.

The lectures will discuss the approaches to Amerindian foods and foodways in the following thematic blocks:

  • Terms, concepts and theoretical approaches to foods and foodways;

  • Zooarchaeology;

  • Archaeobotany;

  • Bio-anthropology;

  • Archaeometry;

  • Continuities, discontinuities, and transformations in foodways in postcolonial Americas.

Every class will consist of a lecture and the discussion of the weekly assigned literature. Short presentations by the students on the advance of their research selected for the final essay, are scheduled for the second part of the block.
In this essay, each student will explore one of the course topics, using the knowledge and skills acquired during the course, drawing mainly, but not exclusively, from the literature assigned as obligatory reading.

RMA-students will be asked to situate the content of their essay into a broader sociocultural, methodological and theoretical context of study.

Course objectives

  • Ability to critically assess and meaningfully interconnect the archaeological, historical, and ethnographical data related to foodways, especially in the Caribbean macroregion but also with examples from the Americas in general;

  • Ability to critically assess current research and theoretical literature on foodways, especially with relation to the above-mentioned macro-region;

  • Ability to identify and understand autochthonous methods of procuring, processing and consuming food resources;

  • Improving the skills on critical reading of pertinent academic texts and abstracting from them synthetic points for further on-line and class discussions;

  • Ability to select a research topic, consult relevant literature, and create and present in class a PowerPoint presentation, showing the ability to handle a stimulating discussion afterwards;

  • Improving writing skills while working on a paper related to a specific research topic and aiming at critical interlocking of the relevant literature and the information provided during the course.

For RMA students, complementing the above:

  • Acquiring the skills to write a research paper drawing from a relatively rich number of bibliographic sources and linking the specific data set to an updated theoretical and methodological approach into a broad interregional context;

  • Ability to lead a discussion after the presentation, stimulating an active exchange and discussion of ideas;

  • Ability to contribute with critical and constructive ideas during the in class discussions as well as the on-line postings.


Course schedule details can be found in the RMA time schedule.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar lectures;

  • Active discussions on the critical analysis of the literature;

  • Presentations made by small teams of students.

Course load

The course load will be distributed as follows:

  • 7×2 hours of lectures (1 ects);

  • 300 pages of literature (2 ects);

  • essay of 2,000 words (1 ects);

  • 20 hours of practical work for making a presentation (1 ects).

Assessment method

  • Active participation in class (20%);

  • Discussion points (25%);

  • Final essay (max. 2,500 words) (40%);

  • PowerPoint presentation (15%).

All assessment deadlines (exams, retakes, paper deadlines etc.) can be found in the examination schedule.

Reading list

The reading list includes various sources, monographs and articles, which will be closely related to the subsequent topics of the course and assigned in advance for every class.
Students will have to identify by themselves (library/internet search) the literature necessary for the preparation of the presentations and for the final essay.

All information referring to the assignments and literature will be posted on BlackBoard in due time and thus the use of Blackboard is compulsory.


Registration for the course is not necessary, registration for the exam is mandatory. For instructions, see the Registration in uSis page.

Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Prospective students website for information on how to apply.

Registration ‘Contractonderwijs’

All information (costs, registration, entry requirements, etc.) for those who are interested in taking this course as a Contractstudent is on the Contractonderwijs Archeologie webpage (in Dutch).


For more information about this course, please contact dr. A.T. Antczak.


Compulsory attendance.