ILC Description

In an attempt to understand the many ways we experience and handle trauma, this winter quarter I will be focusing on how people in Thurston county can interact with stress and trauma through real food, kefir, and dance.

I will volunteer at the Thurston County Food Bank and participate in a local food campaign for the South Puget Sound area to gain an understanding about food access. I will do research on the history of the fermented beverage kefir and learn how to make two versions of it: dairy and water. I will participate in a multi-media, butoh inspired dance performance that ask the question how long can we destroy our planet before we destroy ourselves? I will also look into how dance and storytelling have been used to heal trauma.


Jennifer Diaz

SOS Commodification Processes and Alternatives

Final Self-Narrative Self-Evaluation Assignment

March 12th, 2017


This was my first time being enrolled in a Student-Originated Studies program organized around a weekly class meeting, a day to meet with our professor, Dr. Sarah Williams, and the rest of the week was dedicated to work on my own in-program Individual Learning Contract project.

Overall I discovered three main lessons: 1) how to stabilize and strengthen the microbiota in your gut using bacteria and cultures, 2) plant life that can thrive in the climate of the pacific north west that also aid in the regulation of coritozol, 3) I explored embodiment through dance, trauma, and healing through participating in a multimedia Butoh-inspired performance titled The Earth Speaks and studying Ecopsychology.

Similar to how Tompkins reflects on her work on hunger and embodiment, and looking at slavery as an injustice that is stuck in the body politic in her novel Racial Indigestion, I too began to wonder where race and digestion met and how the stress of racism affected those who felt the pressure of it. I explored the gut and foods that can heal indigestion, and through this class ended up discovering how complicated the relationship between food and the self is, and how common digestive disorders are in America. Like LaDuke when she writes “It is said that change does not come without struggle,” my own journey this quarter led me to the realization that healing is personal as well as collective, and both must be given attention and respect. This quarter also led me back to myself, back to my own body and my own traumas, and brought hope and healing through a time of great change and personal unearthing.

I had different sensations learning from each book that we read for seminar. Kyla Wazana Tompkins’s Racial Indigestion: Eating Bodies in the 19th Century is possibly the most intricate, thoughtful, and detailed work that I have read in my college experience. Between her manipulation of language, use of long and winding metaphors, her thesis of eating embodying racial indentify and sexual desire, and her recognition of exploitive food practices and how our culture surrounding food needs to shift, this book was the most challenging and intriguing read out of the three. In weekly seminar preparation writings I explored the places where food, place, and identity mingle. My most successful response was to chapter 3, where I put Tompkins work into conversation with Newman and LaDuke and two contemporary news items: one about missing and murdered Native Women, and the other about stress and the digestive system.

Tompkins advocates for a new way of looking at “food studies” and calls this new lense “critical eating studies.” This new idea direct the focus of our SOS. It enabled us to view the mouth as a site of eating and talking, not only consuming. We were templates of experience and reflections of the things we eat and say. We had weekly tasting labs where we experienced foods related to the themes in racial indigestion along with tea tasting labs. The food tasting lab added to my learning experience by reminding me of the power of storytelling. The knowledge that we were exposed to during these tasting labs changed the way I accepted and reacted to the food. When I knew the origins or the historical context of the food I was eating, my experience with the food felt fuller, more meaningful, and sometimes created dissonance within me. The tea tasting labs reminded me of the importance of coming together and sharing vulnerable space. I was also exposed to the history of Camilla sinensis and all the ways we enjoy it today.

The title of my in-program Individual Learning Contract was Naturally Nourishing: Healing psychosomatic experience through culinary arts and embodiment. My learning objectives, corresponding activities, and outcomes were to explore the current policies and societal structures that interrupt an individual’s opportunity or access to real food in Thurston County. I helped name a Thurston County education and outreach intiative about local food, distributed food at the Thurston County Food Bank and got to know members of the community who play roles in the local food system. My second learning objective was to research the connection between mental health and digestive health, and how to create a healthy eco-system in our bodies. I went to workshops and read books exploring food as medicine and learned how to make dairy and water kefir. My third learning objective was to become familiar with research that has been done on the connection between human health and the ecosystems health, and how food and dance could relieve stress, tension, or trauma. The outcomes for this objective were the Butoh performance, which was a performative mediation on our bodies inherent connection to the earth and to each other. The performance invited those who witnessed to contemplate how industrialization and capitalization of the body and the earths body fuels the illusion that we are separate from the whole web of life, and how our disregard to this connection and our influence on the environment and on each other does indeed have consequences. In a society which views the body as a mechanism to be trained and the earth as a resource to be exploited, this performance was an attempt to be reminded us of our fundamental wholeness and interconnection. Inspired by bothButoh dance and Eco-Feminist philosophy, the performance facilitated deep thought about the harmful split between the earth and human society that has resulted from patriarchal capitalism, and how the split might be healed by the feminine instinct for nurture and holistic knowledge of the earth’s rhythms. I wrote e-journal posts about my findings and had a personal food journal where I recorded what I ate, how I felt during the preparation and during ingestion, how I moved that day, and any notable sensation in my body that day.

For my 2 class presentations I discussed the benefits of borage, kefir, and a quick description on the origins of Butoh. I showed the class my images and findings that are also posted on my e-journal.

In summary, I learned that stress can be alleviated, but the stressor needs to be addressed as well. Dairy kefir is very easy to keep up with, but it is still a delicate task. Dairy kefir changed the way I was digesting, and even in the middle of winter while being under a spell of depression, I was able to feel okay in my body because of the nutrition and regulation it brought to my digestion and over all health. I learned about ecopsychology and the way dances have been used to reflect, change, and heal different people. On reflection, what I learned matters because excessive stress disturbs and ultimately destroys the body. Being able to regulate and release stress is beneficial for short and long term survival.

Most of my work was documented on my project e-journal that was a part of the SOS wordpress website. The work I am most proud of surrounds learning about kefir and keeping my own kefir alive. Some skills I learned from working with WordPress to create an e-portolio include using zotero, addressing large audiences via the internet, and how to keep my writing academic and also relatable.

Standing at the tenth week, I now know how to think critically and vulnerably, both by myself and in groups, about food and identity. I was reminded that I can not get so lost in my pleasure that I forget about the “cost” of that pleasure.

This quarter has encouraged me to not be afraid of communicating, no matter what the mode of communication is. This quarter has prepared me for next quarter through the exposure of creative academic writing (Tompkins) and personal storytelling (LaDuke.) This class has reminded me that we all have to eat, and because of thise we all have a deep relationship to food, the earth, and each other because of this need. I learned about the discipline and motivation needed to complete individual studies. Overall, it was not the best fit for me because of my mental state. I am someone who benefits from clear maps and boundaries when it comes to learning, but I learned great lessons, added three mind-altering books to my shelf, and now carry the understanding and gratitude for food and all of the people who have are a part of the system that nourishes me.

Proposed Credit Equivalencies: 11 total of 16 attempted/registered

4- Commodification Processed: Racism and Sexism in Food Systems

2- Critical Eating Studies: Tasting Labs

3- Individual Learning Project

2- Creative and Expository Writing: WordPress ePortfolio


Tasting Lab: Bread and Butter

Our Bread and Butter tasting lab correlated with Chapter 4 of Racial Indigestion and Newmans chapters on dairy and bread. Annie brought two different styles of bread and we made our own butter from shaking a jar of whipping cream.

This was the first time I had ever made butter, and I found the experience to be rewarding both physically and mentally-I got a nice little arm work out and I knew exactly what this butter was made of. A few of us got a chance to put in the arm work for out butter, and I believe sharing the work made the experience more endearing.

Annie brought the grass of the wheat plant and we were able to eat the grass before we ate it in the form we are all so familiar with-bread. A lot of chewing is involved in ingesting wheat grass, but the smell is so pleasant and it felt like I got to know another aspect of this changeable and highly used plant. I felt like a cow by minute seven of chewing on the grass. And I must say, being forced to slow down and really taste what was in my mouth was extremely enjoyable, connecting, and humbling.

Tasting Lab: Spices and Salmon

Our second tasting lab was about spices, salmon, and politics. It correlated with Newmans chapter on spices.

We prepared salmon lox together, and I was in charge of preparing the sweet lox. I used two parts sugar, one part salt, star anise, nutmeg, and caradamom, and was enjoyed the next week at our class potluck.

I have never prepared salmon in this way, so it was exciting to participate in this process. It was also exciting to see the way Annie tied current political events, cultural norms, and spices together.

She asked us two questions on her handout:

1- Do you think the hearth still has a central role? What will a hearth look like in 2020? Kitchen talk?

I think the symbolism of hearth still has a very central role. Its stage time and physicality have changed over the years but there is still a source of heat that gathers everyone together. I believe the hearth still has its part, but its stage time is much shorter now. The microwave and stove have changed our paces.

I think a hearth will look similar to a microwave. Or maybe it will be some sort of nutrient reader that tells you what nutrients you need to eat.

Kitchen talk will probably revolve around the latest environmental disaster the affects our food. Food will probably start being used as currency, and the way we relate to food will change because of this.

2- What spices did you blend? Why?

I blended white peppercorn, salt, star anise, and clove. I wanted an astringent sweet mix that would be helpful with digestion.


All the Ways We Can Communicate and Why I Changed my ILC

This is a personal post regarding my health, my experiences, and my updated independent learning contract.

A time for me to open up my mounds in a safe and public space, to share some of the stories that have brought me to this day, March 6th, 2017

I have been experiencing degrees of depression for the last two years. Six months ago was the first time the feeling stayed long enough for me to need to give a name to the feeling so that I could address it, since it was clear that it wanted and needed to stay with me for a while. Six months ago I was also in my first Butoh stage-performance. (I will dive deeper into what Butoh is another time, but for some texture I will offer a brief image of what Butoh is.)

An image from Skin of Scarlet: Sex, Politics, and the Body, the first Butoh performance I participated in

Butoh is a form of dance-theater that was born in Japan. Rising in 1959 through the two original collaborators, Hijikata Tatsumi and Ohno Kazuo.

Known as the dance of death, disease, and darkness, the body moves slow and the goal is not to entertain. The audience is there to witness the performer reflect the parts of humanity that are taboo, silenced, and ignored. The very first Butoh performance revolved around homosexuality, bestiality, and a chicken was suffocated; pretty heavy content for any time period, but especially so for 1959.

“But, what is Butoh?”

It has taken many forms, and the answer and definition could be a controversial topic depending on who you who talk to. Butoh has roots in Japan, but has flourished in many countries since the 1970’s. It transforms and always will, and today, Butoh encompasses many styles, from the grotesque to the austere, from erotic to comic. It is often regarded as surreal and androgynous, focusing on the human condition and primal expressions rather than physical beauty.

If a friend of mine who has never seen Butoh before, and I went to invite them to experience it, I usually describe it as a per formative mediation, for the performer and the witnesses, on the things we sometimes like to cover up or turn away from.

Opening Scene from Skin of Scarlet: Sex Politics and the Body, the first Butoh stage performance I participated in

Now lets return to six months ago, two weeks before my first staged performance. My beautiful friend Nicholas, a queer latinx  man, was murdered after his shift at the hospital he worked at. We still do not know who killed him, or why, but we have our assumptions. After the death of my friend, the weight of his departure and all of the taxing encounters with my own demons, I decided going to a counselor for the first time in my life could possibly be beneficial. Parts of it was, and parts of it was not. I have only gone twice, and I have not met with them again since January.

Every time I have ever prepared for a large scale Butoh performance, my modes of existing completely change. If my consciousness had a face, the hands of Butoh would grab it, and completely morph my head so that my eyes are staring in the opposite direction; directly into my body, forcing me to look at what and who I am. I believe there is a correlation between my experiences with depression and my first time really experiencing Butoh as an art form that I give away to others.

Butoh allows its dancers to feel in ways that are often discarded in our lives because of the logical and reasonable modes that we must be in in order to survive in this modern world. I become so occupied with digging into myself, that almost all of my daily and scholarly tasks began to feel more like obligations instead of nurturing experiences. Communicating in ways other than my body or song began to feel restricting and unfullfilling.

By Week five I had decided to make Butoh and its affects on the body and mind a part of my ILC.

I want to communicate what my fellow dancers and I experience during Butoh. I want to explore the ways we can handle depression and trauma by using our own body and silence as medicine.

Communication through language has been a trip for me the last few months, and I will try my hardest to share these experiences and findings. Thankfully, I am also currently taking a creative writing class with David Wolach, and they are helping me scale along the limitations that I am imaging for my work.

Thank you class mates, thank you body, and thank you Sarah Williams for the patience and support you have given.


~Jennfier Diaz





Seminar Week 8

Jennifer Diaz

February 27, 2017

SOS Com Alt

Sem Pre-Write

Word Count: 297




“What Brooks also calls “too-muchness” produces moments of spectacular visibility that exceed the advertisers’ intended and literal meanings. In the era of conspicuous consumption the “too-muchness” of the black and Asian bodies as represented in these trade cards is of key importance. The affective excess and semiotic overload of these images encode the use of disgust to facilitate and accompany the white bourgeois consumers disavowal and enjoyment of commodity pleasure.” Pg. 150


“…reminding me that the archive, and in particular the archive attached to minority presence in the Americas, is always either incomplete or inconsistent, always subject to the control and interests of its organizers and institutional location.” Pg. 151


Tompkins 2012;


“What is clear now is that the West’s fascination with the primitive has to do with its own crises in identity, with its own need to clearly demarcate subject and object even while flirting with the other ways of experiencing the universe.” Pg 367


“Contemporary working-class British clan playfully converges the discourse of desire, sexuality, and the Other, evoking the phrase getting “a bit of the Other” as a way to speak about sexual encounter. Fucking is the Other. Displacing notion of Otherness from race, ethnicity, skin-color, the body emerges as a site of contestation where sexuality is the metaphoric Other that threatens to take over, consumer, transform via the experience of pleasure.” Pg 367


News Media Context:


Is Arizona’s Ban on Mexican-American Studies Legal?


Does an Arizona law banning Mexican-American studies curriculum in public schools intentionally discriminate against Hispanics? That’s the question a federal appeals court has claimed warrants a trial.




When Arizona wanted to ban Mexican-American Studies from a Tucson School curriculum, it was the ruling-white classes display of power. And although this doesn’t have anything to do with commodity pleasure, although we might be able to argue that public education is commodified, especially higher education, it is a direct reflection of their power and they received pleasure from excluding this piece of history, taking this “bit of the other” and doing with it what they wanted. In this case the bit of the other is history and what they do with it is deem it illegal and not credible.

One could say that Arizona, which was once a part of Azatlan, which is what we call Mexico today, may have a bit of an identity crises regarding their past and present. Why would they want to share the history of the people who once roamed and “owned” this land? That history is not needed anymore, because it doesn’t pertain to the current ruler. Minority presence in the United States has always been tampered with. Photographer Edward S. Curtis took photographs of “the modern Native American.” His work was hailed as the most ambitious work in publishing since the production of the King James Bible. He captured beautiful shots of indigenous people, dressed in traditional clothing and interacting with horses, just like they used to. There is one photograph of two men sitting in front of a teepee with “all of their material items.” But one item was too modern and ruined the image Curtis wanted to portray. In order to keep the staus quo and the beauty of the natural, primitive, native, Curtis “photoshopped” the clock that sat amongst the mens items. It was just too like our world to be a part of this picture.

Seminar Week 7

Jennifer Diaz

February 20, 2017

SOS Com Alt

Sem Pre-Write

Word Count: 287




“Rose is taught not to leave the bread to burn: “I must give my whole mind to it…[I] sat watching over it all the while it was in the oven till I was quite baked myself.”


“Christies declaration of independence and Rose’s concern to be able to support herself, are materialized in the kitchen, where making bread requires intellectual labor and willpower as well as the correct ingredients.”


“Though much changed between 1837 and 1876, Alcott remains rooted in the original Grahamite racial imaginary linking body to place, attesting for the fact that, brief as his appearance was in the public eye, his work laid the foundation for food discourse that was foundational to the nation.”


(Tompkins 2012: 134, 142)


News Media Context:


Immigrant Moms Were Told They Can’t Have Jobs-So They Started Their Own Tamale Co-op


Employment options can be extremely limited for undocumented immigrants who can’t work legally. These single moms are relying on each other.


“On a broader level, the tamales and coffee represented the mothers’ efforts to create an opportunity for self-sufficiency, to foster collective economic empowerment, and to forge a path forward for themselves and their families.”


I strongly believe that cooking is one of the most empowering activities an individual can partake in, no matter what genitals you carry. It is a way to directly support yourself. You are building yourself up, nurturing your body, whether you are in love with yourself at the moment or not, you are loving yourself.


I really appreciate how Alcott highlights the need to be present when you are cooking. Rose watched the bread until “she was quite baked herself.” She embodied the bread before consuming it. She was with the bread before it was within her. These practices of being present and staying committed to your nutrition could be healing and transformative practices.


Rose’s family were opposed to her leaving and becoming independent. The United States were opposed to these single immigrant mothers becoming independent, and yet both groups ended up finding a way to find self-worth. In the media context article, the women prepare traditional tamales from Mexico and Guatemala, and traditional coffee from Ethiopia. Our bodies are always going to bring up an image for whoever perceives us. These womens bodies and livelihood are still linked to the place where they came from. I feel like the United States has a different perspective on body and place when it comes to Latin food, at the very least. We have taco trucks and Mexican restaurants everywhere. At some point the idea that eating someone elses food will make you like them was forgotten in order to enjoy the satisfying and budget friendly tacos. It is a social phenomenon now to consume tacos with your loved ones. I am curious about where the lines are drawn now a days in regards to food, body, and place.

Seminar Week 6

Jennifer Diaz

SOS: ComAlt Sem Pre-Write

Week 6

13 February, 2017

Word Count: 204


“Celebrity chef Tom Coliccho served braised pork belly at Gramercy Tavern in New York City, but he called it “fresh bacon” to make it sound more appetizing.”

(Newman 2013:  119)

“Although I’m trained as an economist, I am not sure how to do it. That is because I cannot account for the spiritual and cultural impacts of everything. I’m not sure that it can be done. Some economists describe this measure as unquantifiable.”

“These coal mines will be built on my familiys original homestead. I do not want our country to be the sacrificial lamb for China.”

“The Crow Nation chairman, Darrin Old Coyote, says coal was a gift to his community that goes back to the tribes creation story. “Coal is life,” he says. “It feeds families and pays the bills…”

(LaDuke 2016: 15, 22 31

News Media Context:

1.     Defund DAPL Spreads Across Indian Country as Tribes Divest

The Navajo Nation is making moves to join a growing number of tribes that have already respectfully, but conclusively, shown Wells Fargo the door.

2.     Obamacare Repeal Threatens a Health Benefit Popular In Coal Country

At the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Clinic in Scarbro, W.Va., oxygen tubes dangle from the noses of three miners slowly pedaling on stationary bikes. All of these men have black lung — a disease caused by breathing in coal dust.


The passages I chose from Newman and LaDukes works relate to each other on their own. The chef from New York called pork belly “fresh bacon” to appease the eaters while the Crow Nation chairman, Darrin Old Coyote, said that “coal is life,” a striking difference between the current DAPL mantra of water is life.

Darrin Old Coyote tells himself and his people that coal is a gift from creator so that the Crow can eat and pay their bills. (Did creator foreshadow capitalism back in the day?)

The articles I chose connect to the current fight Indians face with the Dakota Access Pipeline. Despite the economic “gains” that would be made possible, the people of North Dakota are more focused on the unquantifiable goods in life: their culture, their spirit, and their people.

 The second article I chose shows how these fuel enterprises value the number of jobs created over the health of their employee. So many poor Americans have been sacrificial lambs to our progress and way of life.  The canaries in the mine are sick and yet the government who said they would cover their promises back. How much is a life worth?  Is it worth a warm and well-lit home?

Seminar Week 5

Jennifer Diaz

SOS: ComAlt Sem Pre-Write

Week 5

07 February, 2017

Word Count: 282



“This bizarre image emerges from the complex web of racial relationships, as though to find a compromise between white America’s twinned emotions-desire and fear-nothing will do but to actually internalize and obliterate blackness…”

“…implicated in cannibalizing the black body, as a precondition of their entry into the modern, capitalist world…”

“To taste food, and to taste certain forms of desire, is to experience that which cannot yet be put into words…”

“…to empathize with the slave is to internalize her, but to do so is also to annihilate her subjectivity…//

“That slavery as a fundamental injustice gets stuck inside the body politic.”

(Tompkins 2012: 90, 95, 102, 106, 113, 117)


“And, the Lakota people and other native people deserve to be recognized as more than mascots.”

(LaDuke 2016: 105)


“Or else those eggs expected when

It suits the mood of Mrs.Hen—

Not egocentric in your art,

For barnyard creatures play their part”

(Newman 2013: 65)


News Media Context:


Missing and Murdered: No One Knows How Many Native Women Have Disappeared

Under VAWA 2005, a national study authorized by Congress found that between 1979 and 1992 homicide was the third leading cause of death among Native females aged 15-34, and that 75 percent were killed by family members or acquaintances.


Stress and the Digestive System

In recent years, doctors have uncovered a remarkably complex connection between the brain and the digestive system. The entire system is extremely sensitive to our moods. In fact, experts now see stress as a major player in a wide range of digestive problems, including irritable bowel syndrome, indigestion, and heartburn.




Whether the prey prefers to be chased or not, the role of being preyed upon is stressful. Black and brown bodies have been gathered and used to do the work that colonizers did (and still do) not want to participate in. Tompkins proclaims that slavery is an injustice that gets stuck in the body politic. I believe the stress, trauma, and injustices done to our bodies and our ancestors bodies find safe havens in us until they are able to leave.  LaDuke says that the Lakotas humanity deserves recognition and respect. It is hard to recognize something as human when you hold intense emotions towards it that may cloud the way the “other” individual is perceived. Just like how Tompkins points out how we eating the other makes it so that the eater cannot see the slave as subjective any longer. Fear, desire, lust, and empathy all have the ability to connect, tear down, and re-arrange connections between two people, in very beneficial and in very silencing ways, ways that ignore that the other is existing outside of your perspective of them. People are more than what our experience of them can contain.


Every barn yard creature plays their part, and as long as I’m getting mine than that’s all that matters, say the white man.

The brown one is picking the food, the black one is picking the trash, the yellow one is cooking my meal, and I am sitting here enjoying the fruits as I watch my TV with the images of the pretty light skinned people.

Every creature is playing its part, but not every creature is looked after.

Every creature is playing its part,

But not every creature is well or free

Updated ILC


Learning Objectives Learning Activities Learning Outcomes
What current policies and societal constructs interrupt an individuals opportunity to have access to real food? Assisting with a Thurston County education and outreach initiative with Aslan Meade

Distributing food at the Thurston County food bank

Interviews with people involved in the Thurston County Food System



E-journal posts


What research has already been done on the mind-gut connection?

How can this knowledge be used to heal people on large scales? What foods support our guts microbiota?

Research and workshops on food as medicine

Reading List:

Gut: The Inside Story of Our Bodies Most Underrated Organ

An Illustrated Guide to Herbs

Oxidative Stress and Digestive Disease by Toshikau Yoshikawa

Learning how to make Kefir

E-journal posts


What research has acknowledged the connection between human health and the ecosystems health?

How does trauma and stress influence digestion? What food, herbs, and beverages can we consume to relieve stress? How can individuals who experience stress, social anxiety, and trauma find relief and release through food and physical activity?

Butoh Performance

Reading List

The Sacred Kitchen, Robertson and Robertson

Ecopsychology, Roszak, Gomes, Kanner, Brown, and Hallman

Nourishing Traditions

Sally Fallon

Nourishing Broth

Sally Fallon


Research and reflective essay on the history of dance/performance and how it has been used to heal and intiate movements