Environmental Economics and Management


Pisa, Rosaria

Advisor Department

Women's Studies




food culture, Dominicans, immigrants, transnationalism


Food, as an universal topic that transcends borders, times, and places, is a pathway towards understanding a group's transnational and local identity (Mares). Food culture as it refers to the practices, attitudes, and beliefs as well as the networks and institutions surrounding the production, distribution, and consumption of food provides fundamental understanding of a group (Long).Sociologists defined “transnationalism” as the process by which immigrants build social fields that link together their country of origin and their country of settlement (Glick Schiller et al. 1992:1). At the same time, migration flows influence the local context structure and the impacts of global processes are different in distinct areas at local, regional and national levels (Levitt 2011). Migration is the crossing of the boundary of a political or administrative unit for a certain period of time (United Nations). Large-scale migration from the Dominican Republic, a 48,670 qs km island nation in the Caribbean, to the United States began in the 1960s. The migration began in the wake of economic and political turbulence that occurred after dictator Rafael Trujillo was killed by rebels in 1961 and the U.S. military and other government agencies intervened (Brown, 2013). The Dominican immigrant population in the United States, which stood at 12,000 in 1960, grew rapidly after that: reaching 350,000 in 1990 and 879,000 in 2010 (Batalova, 2014). Today, the State of Rhode Island is home to the fourth largest Dominican immigrant community in the United States. Dominicans are the largest group of Hispanics in this state (American Immigration Council). At the same time, transnationalism recognizes the migration in not directional, but a circular flow between the host country and country of origin.

As a young immigrant group to this state, researchers in academia and other sectors should be interested in understanding this population and their eating habits. I plan to use existing literature on Dominican Immigrants to identity how variables such as transnationalism, generation, gender, race identity and class status shaped their eating habits. I expect to find more literature that indicates that transnationalism will have a greater impact on the eating habits of Dominican Americans. There is limited information on Dominican immigrants food culture and risks of food insecurity. There is less research recognizing Rhode Island as a hub for Dominican immigration and its implications for Dominicans foodways and Rhode Island food culture. There is a need to carry out ethnographic research on Dominican immigrants food practices and foodmaps in the state of Rhode Island.