Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

David Himmelgreen, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Elizabeth Hordge-Freeman, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Daniel Lende, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Dinorah Martinez Tyson, Ph.D., M.P.H.

Committee Member

Nancy Romero-Daza, Ph.D.


anti-Blackness, dietary acculturation, foodways, immigration, racism, Whiteness


This dissertation explores how race impacts everyday food decisions and experiences among Black and White migrants in Florida, United States. The study is rooted in scholarship on food and immigration, which asserts that dietary acculturation or the “Americanization” of diets adversely affects the overall health status of migrant populations in the U.S. To date, the majority of this literature has focused on the experiences of Latinx migrants and has not centered race in its analysis. Building on participant observation and semi-structured interviews (n=49) completed over a period of 13 months in the Tampa and Miami Metropolitan areas among Ethiopian and Finnish communities, the findings of this dissertation demonstrate that food is a prominent site of race- making, affecting dietary decisions in and outside of the migrant’s household. Food shaming, food stereotyping, and fetishizing of “exotic” foods affected dietary decisions among Black migrants, while White migrants described their eating habits going largely unnoticed in everyday life. Among both groups, women were largely held responsible for both healthy eating practices as well as cultural continuity through maintenance of food traditions. Both groups described changes towards less healthy eating patterns in the U.S., however, only White migrants positioned themselves as having superior knowledge over healthy eating compared to other migrant groups. Among both groups, food was central to community-building and self-preservation. The findings from this dissertation demonstrate that race is a frequently unexamined social factor affecting dietary practices and changes among migrants in the U.S. Furthermore, the findings shed light on the social, affective, and gendered dimensions of foodways which calls for further research on understanding how migrants’ decision-making regarding food is impacted by such dynamics.