Dis/Placements and Dis/Ruptures in Cosmopolitan Conviviality: ‘Writing' Multi-Cultural London

Monday, 11 July 2016: 09:20
Location: Seminar 33 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Benjamin COLES, University of Leicester, United Kingdom
Alison BARNES, School of Design, London College of Communication University of the Arts London, United Kingdom
Cosmopolitan conviviality is located within the ‘maelstrom of affectivity’ (Thrift 2004) that makes up everyday life in a city. Within this context, consumption, specifically that of food, becomes a primary means through which everyday cultural identities are negotiated. Focusing on notions of affinity and commensality these perspectives highlight food consumption’s capacity to mediate multiculturalism by signaling the seemingly uncanny ability of food to bring diverse arrays of people together. Additionally, signaling social-sensuality they identify the radical potential of particular consumptive arenas, such as markets, corner shops or ‘ethnic’/multi-‘ethnic’ neighborhoods and the social-sensual experiences that they engender to overcome and transform otherwise fixed social, cultural and political relations. Current debate about transnational migration and global gentrification, however, indicate the concurrent re/emergence of a visceral nationalism that demarcates social and cultural, as well as, political spaces. Alongside ‘together-in-difference’, these spaces suggest that projects of convivial cosmopolitanism come laden with displacements, fractures and ruptures.   

Drawing from interconnected case studies of London’s Kingsland Road and Borough Market, this paper seeks to examine the multiple, mutually construed relations that lead to affinity and displacements within spaces that define both convivial cosmopolitanism and visceral nationalism. We interrogate the ways in which material, social and discursive relations surrounding food and its consumption assemble to re/produce, re/construct, but also contest, the muti-cultural urban landscape. This is explored via the [creative] spatial practices of geo/graphy and topography (‘earth-writing’ and ‘place-writing respectively’), that enable the emergence of place through its writing, telling and re/presentation. Utilising both form and content to construct affective re/presentations of multi-cultural places, these approaches move beyond the conventions of academic publishing to embrace the disruptive nature of place in proactive and provocative ways that engage the multi-sensorium that surrounds consumption,