Teresa Mares, Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Vermont
Teresa Mares’ most recent project has centered around the connections between immigration and food systems, and more specifically, how the diets and relationships of immigrant communities change as a result of migrating to the United States, with a central focus on people from Latin America. To accomplish her research goals she has engaged in participant observation, interviews, and the USDA’s Household Food Security Survey module as a means of gaining information about food security. She started the project in 2011, and published a book on her findings in early 2019.
When I asked about some general strengths of qualitative research, she replied, “I think qualitative research often allows you a lot of depth and understanding things in a more holistic way […]. I think it also allows people to do work that matters to the community […] because qualitative work often can be based more on ground of theory or based more on ground of issues that allow you to design projects that are relevant to the community that you’re working with.”
It is essential to make sure that the research is applicable to the community, and since “there can be a potential for tokenizing those communities or putting them under a microscope,” it is necessary to be aware of these possibilities and developing a research plan that will not violate them in that way.