Creative City Madness: A Seminar with Jean Duruz

For the September Food Values Research Group Seminar, we are pleased to present:

Creative City Madness: Food Trucks and Cultures of Entrepreneurialism

Dr. Jean Duruz, University of South Australia

photo of Jean DuruzThis presentation reflects on the recent introduction of “boutique” food trucks to Adelaide’s streets as a state-sponsored strategy for creating “a more vibrant public realm”. To unravel the politics of “vibrancy”, we follow La Chiva, a mobile business initiative of a group of young Colombian migrants, to a number of actual and virtual locations – for example a university courtyard, a bohemian pub, a festival in support of the Kurdish people’s political struggle, a smartphone app…. Our project is to capture, particularly through the senses of taste and smell, but also through sight and sound, the ghosts of transnational belonging and their value inscriptions. Low and Kalekin-Fishman’s “sensorial interface” will be helpful here for understanding complex connections between sensory geographies and the “lived” and remembered everyday of cities. At the same time, tracing such connections will indicate the messy, yet potentially productive, politics at intersections of nostalgia, cosmopolitanism, commodification and entrepreneurialism. Perhaps this analysis will provide a challenge to “creative city madness” and to Tonkiss’ claim that “the gentrification of contemporary cities” tends to “aestheticize rather than represent urban ‘diversity’”? Niggling questions, nevertheless, remain: to what extent do transnational identities and their spaces of belonging in cities inscribe performances of “vibrancy” for others?; do planning strategies, intended to promote “vibrancy” and “creativity” based on these identities, simply foster the “cool” of urban hipsterism?; are these transnational, cosmopolitan identities, on the other hand,  critically “grounded” in sensory meanings and value systems of hospitality, reciprocity, community-building and remembering?

Jean Duruz is an Adjunct Senior Research Fellow within the Hawke Research Institute at the University of South Australia. Her research focuses on food exchanges in global cities shaped by globalization and postcolonialism, particularly in the Asia Pacific region, and her approach to this research is shaped by practices of sensory ethnography.  Jean has published in food/cultural studies/cultural geography journals, such as Cultural Studies Review, Space and Culture and Gastronomica, and in various edited collections, such as The Globalization of Asian Cuisines (ed James Farrer). Jean’s recent book, Eating Together: Food, Space and Identity in Malaysia and Singapore, written with Gaik Cheng Khoo, is published by Rowman and Littlefield.

When: Wednesday, 14th of September, 12-1 PM

Where: Lower Napier LG23, Napier Building, North Terrace Campus, University of Adelaide (click here for campus map)

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