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Want to learn more about the faculty, students, and staff that make up the Department of American Studies? Follow along with our new AMST/FOLK Coffee Chat series where we ask our community about new research, old hobbies, and everything in between. 


This week we’re chatting with Von Diaz, a visiting scholar in American Studies department specializing in food studies and storytelling. Read on to learn more about her work, hobbies, and advice she values.

Q: Where’s home for you?

A: San Juan, Puerto Rico and Atlanta, GA are my hometowns, but I currently live in Durham, NC.

Q: How would you describe your research to an undergraduate?

A: My research is focused on Caribbean foodways, with an emphasis on Puerto Rico. I’m deeply interested in what food reveals about culture, and the ways that global migration create unique combinations of ingredients and flavors that reveal so much about history, politics, and society.

Q: Tell us about your latest project!

A: I’m just beginning research on a project that will look at the future of food in Puerto Rico through the lenses of politics, agriculture, climate change, and natural disasters.

Q: What is your proudest academic moment?

A: I completed my M.A. at New York University, and the keynote speaker at my graduation was Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. She’s also Puerto Rican, and hearing about her journey made me feel as if anything is possible.

Q: What music do you listen to?

A: I played the violin for many years, and deeply love music! I listen to all sorts of things, but my heavy rotation is hip-hop, R&B, jazz, world music, classic and alternative rock, and pop.

Q: What hobbies do you have?

A: I cook a lot.  On any given week 75% of the food I eat comes from my house, and I’m constantly experimenting with new cuisines. I also love going to see live performances, visiting art galleries and museums, traveling to places I’ve never been (and back to places that I love), and hanging out with my dog, Zorra.

Q: Best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

A: Find the intersection between what you love and what you’re good at, then do that for the rest of your life.

Want to suggest someone for a AMST/FOLK Coffee Chat interview? Send us a line at uncamericanstudies [at] gmail [dot] com.

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