Food, Culture, and Power in Mesoamerica, Oaxaca

 Faculty Led
  • Oaxaca, Mexico

The University at Albany, SUNY continues to monitor and assess the COVID-19 Novel Corona Virus pandemic. All Spring 2021 and Summer 2021 education abroad programs worldwide are suspended, and Fall 2021 remains uncertain. While there are no definite answers on when education abroad programming will resume, programs abroad are not expected to all re-open at the same time. Instead, when education abroad relaunches only a limited number of programs and destinations will be available, evaluated based on global travel conditions, health and safety guidelines, SUNY System Administration re-opening protocols, and UAlbany priorities. Therefore at this time, students cannot apply for any UAlbany education abroad programs for Fall 2021 or any future term, as we await guidance and approval from SUNY System Administration. The process of review and approval to re-open programs and destinations will be ongoing. As you plan now for your global future, our dedicated Education Abroad team remains ready and available to assist and guide you! Join our virtual events throughout the Spring 2021 semester and check out our credit bearing virtual options for Summer 2021.

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Take advantage of this opportunity to experience the culture of Oaxaca, Mexico firsthand. Taste the food and experience local traditions. Visit museums and enjoy tours of local historical sites. Learn about the gastronomic heritage and the role food plays in Mexico’s history and culture. You will not leave this program hungry.

Application Deadline


Program Start


Program End


Partner University


  • Oaxaca

Program Term

  • Summer

Language of Instruction

Faculty Led

Program Details

Program Advisor

Huckleby, Carmeisha
Take advantage of this opportunity to experience the culture of Oaxaca, Mexico firsthand. Taste the food and experience local traditions. Visit museums and enjoy tours of local historical sites. Learn about the gastronomic heritage and the role food plays in Mexico’s history and culture. You will not leave this program hungry.
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Academic Program

*Program is subject to minimum enrollment.  
“Food, Culture and Power in Mesoamerica, Oaxaca” is a one-credit education abroad course that will focus on the food culture and politics of one of the regions of Mesoamerica, Oaxaca.

Learning Objectives

You will learn through observation and practical application about indigenous foods and their meanings in Oaxaca. You will also study the ways in which those practices have influenced regional and national Mexican food traditions from historical and political contexts by spending a week in Oaxaca City and making short day trips to two nearby towns.
All course activities will be through direct participation: visiting museums, touring marketplaces, learning to make food, and talking to those who make, sell, and consume food. You and your professor will participate in the program activities together and the professor will lead or moderate daily class discussions.

Course Syllabus

For reference, please refer to the Summer 2019 Course Syllabus for additional course information.
NOTE: the Course Schedule is tentative and subject to change

Sample schedule for Summer 2020):
Day 1 (Tuesday, May 19): Arrival to Oaxaca City, Orientation and overview of Oaxaca City: practical information and safety, La Mariposa, Eco-Hotel or a similar hotel.
Day 2 (Wednesday, May 20): Oaxaca City. Morning historical and cultural tour of downtown Oaxaca. Afternoon visit to the Museum of Cultures of Oaxaca, Santo Domingo.
Day 3 (Thursday, May 21): Oaxaca City. Morning tour of Jardin Etnobotánico de Oaxaca. Lunch at el Mercado la Cosecha orgánico. Afternoon visit to the Basilica of Our Lady of Solitude and museum.
Day 4 (Friday, May 22): Oaxaca City. Tour of the Mercado de Abastos with food sampling experiences and conversations with vendors.
Day 5 (Saturday, May 23): Oaxaca City. Tours of the Benito Juárez Market and the 20 de Noviembre Market with food sampling and conversations with vendors.
Day 6 (Sunday, May 24): Free day to explore Oaxaca or to learn about local Oaxaca City culture, like religion, baseball, and lucha libre with the professor.
Day 7 (Monday, May 25): Lecture on Oaxacan food traditions and tourism at the Welte Institute. Class discussion on maize and sampling of local dishes made from it. Lunch at Itanoni. Dinner making mole.
Day 8 (Tuesday, May 26): Insects as food in Oaxaca. Indigenous to national to international consumption. We will learn about and sample the main edible insects of Oaxaca: chapulines (grasshoppers), chicatanas (flying ants), and gusanos de maguey (maguey worms).
Day 9 (Wednesday, May 27): Return to Albany.

Course Credit

This program counts as a 1-credit course with an option of additional credits for students doing an approved research project with Dr. Little.

General Education Information for UAlbany Students

Credits earned on this program will automatically satisfy the International Perspectives requirement. No additional approval is required for you to earn this general elective credit.

Major/Minor Information for UAlbany Students

Courses may also satisfy major and minor requirements, upon approval by the department.


All courses taken abroad count towards UAlbany General Elective credits. Credits and grades will appear on your UAlbany transcript. You may file a request to have additional courses approved for equivalency as necessary. 


Your Instructor

This course is taught by Professor Walter Little, a professor of anthropology within the UAlbany College of Arts and Sciences. Professor Little is an urban anthropologist who studies indigenous economics, material culture, and identity. He has conducted research in Guatemala and Southern Mexico since 1990.



While in Oaxaca, you will stay at La Mariposa, Eco-Hotel or a similar hotel. More information about the accommodations will be provided at the UAlbany pre-departure orientation.


Breakfast daily is included at your hotel. Lunches and dinners daily will be eaten together as a group as part of the program experience.


Estimate of Costs

Review this program’s Estimate of Costs.  Note, there may be several tabs in the Estimate of Costs. Please be sure that you are reviewing the tab for your anticipated term and year abroad.

More Information

Click for more information on Program Costs and Financial Aid.
Remember to speak with the Office of Financial Aid at your home campus to determine how your aid package could apply towards your program abroad.


Academic Requirements

  • You must have at least a 3.0 GPA to be considered for this program.

Experiential Learning

Experiential learning plays a critical role in your program experience. The program includes a number of cultural and historical excursions* to important and influential sites, so you will have the opportunity to experience the Oaxacan people and their culture as you learn about food production, sales, and consumption.

Excursions and Activities**

  • Historical and cultural tour of downtown Oaxaca
  • Museum of Cultures of Oaxaca, Santo Domingo
  • Tour of Jardin Etnobotánico de Oaxaca
  • Visit to the Welte Institute
  • Tours of the Benito Juárez and 20 of November Markets
  • Tour of the Mercado de Abastos

*Excursions are a mandatory part of the program and specific destinations vary by program and availability.
**Schedule is tentative and subject to change


Funding Opportunities

External scholarships, listed on our website, are a good way to partially fund your study abroad experience. In addition, the Center for International Education and Global Strategy offers two scholarship programs for UAlbany students studying abroad on UAlbany or 4-year SUNY programs.
More information on applying to these scholarships is located on the Scholarships web page.





Speak with an Advisor



About the City

Located in a beautiful valley, Oaxaca de Juárez is a Mexican city in the state of Oaxaca that is renowned for its rich indigenous culture and Spanish Colonial heritage. The city was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987 on the basis of its well-preserved colonial architecture and in 2010 UNESCO recognized the region’s culinary contributions to World Intangible Culture. It is, without doubt, the most important cultural center in Southern Mexico, bringing together a diverse community of intellectuals, artists, musicians, entrepreneurs, and political leaders.  


Application Availability

Applications become available online one semester before the program start date, based on the following timeline:

  • Summer programs: December

Program Dates

05/19/2020 to 05/28/2020

Program Schedule

  • Tuesday, May 19: Depart from the U.S., Arrive in Mexico
  • May 19-May 26: On-site Experience in Mexico
  • Wednesday, May 27: Return to the U.S.

Please refer to the Summer 2019 Itinerary for reference.

*Schedule is tentative and subject to change

Flight Information

There will be a designated roundtrip flight itinerary to Mexico. You will be expected to purchase a seat on the designated flight on your own, AFTER acceptance into this education abroad program. If you choose to depart from Mexico on 5/19/2020, you will be accompanied to the airport by Dr. Little. If you choose to stay in Mexico after 5/27/2020, you will not be accompanied to the airport, and will be responsible for making your own arrangements. More information regarding flights will be available upon acceptance.


About the Program

In Mesoamerica (Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador), food is a powerful form of cultural expression that is embedded in local and global politics and power relations. This 1 credit education abroad course will explore Mesoamerican native culture from the lens of its rich food heritage in Oaxaca, Mexico.
Indigenous Oaxacans have a rich culture that has survived many external forces including Spanish conquest and colonization, modernization, tourism, and neoliberal economics. In Oaxaca, Indigenous culture is vibrant, and its influences can be seen almost everywhere. Food is one of the more common cultural expressions in Oaxaca, expressed in the languages commonly practiced and in traditional dress that are used in and handicrafts are integrated into local traditions and global trade, tourism, and art circuits. Some Mesoamerican food practices, such as eating tortillas and food offerings to worship the dead, are integrated into mainstream Mexican and, even, American society.
This class will take you to Oaxaca to study the continuities of Mesoamerican food traditions and culture. You will visit marketplaces and kitchens to learn about food in the Oaxacan context, learning to make and eat various dishes. The course will offer you experience as to why some food practices and beliefs continue today. It will place these practices within the contexts of historical change and contemporary problems, paying attention, specifically, to how they relate to Mesoamerican food ways, gastronomic heritage, food tourism, and street economies of food production and consumption.

Program Orientations

Upon acceptance to the program, you will be required to attend a mandatory pre-departure orientation. During this time, you will have the opportunity to meet other program participants, discuss in-depth the details of your program, and prepare of the overall education abroad experience. The summer pre-departure orientation is typically conducted in late April.
Upon arrival in Mexico, you will attend a mandatory program orientation. This is an important and informative set of sessions organized by the Faculty Leader. 

Support Services

Your Faculty Leader is responsible for guiding all aspects of the program and will be available throughout the on-site portion of the course to manage  any concerns or questions you may have while abroad. The faculty accompany you on all program  activities and outings.
UAlbany’s Office of Education Abroad staff assists you during the application process, in your  preparation to travel abroad, and on-site if necessary.