Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Geography and Anthropology

Document Type



One of Louisiana's gifts to the world is gumbo. Yet, gumbo is not just a local dish of renown. It is a metaphor which describes the people, a food that represents a region, and a symbol that stands in for the state. It is also the official dish of Louisiana. The association of gumbo with South Louisiana is recognized worldwide. The word itself evokes images of Louisiana's swampy Cajun landscapes. Yet gumbo is not indigenous to Louisiana nor is it a strictly Cajun dish. This dissertation is about the cultural and historical geography of gumbo. This study delves into the background, evolution, and how gumbo became a symbol for south Louisiana. In the historical perspective we see that gumbo is not just a Louisiana food but a dish that has ties to the greater history of the Atlantic world. Gumbo is a dish born of colonialism with heavy influences from the African diaspora. Yet, gumbo goes beyond history. The meaning embodied in gumbo can be found in the cooking of the dish. However, in the cooking of the dish only one geography and one voice is realized. Cooking gumbo illustrates a hidden landscape, which is not often studied in the discipline of geography. By looking at masked performances/hidden landscapes, geographers can get a more nuanced idea of what is actually happening in landscapes and thus realize a true human geography of space. Studying gumbo can help geographers better understand the regional/cultural/historical implications of what a food and its preparation can say about a place.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Student has submitted appropriate documentation to restrict access to LSU for 365 days after which the document will be released for worldwide access.

Committee Chair

Mathewson, Kent