Approaching City Life through the Experiences of Commingling at Urban Food Markets: A Study of Two Marketplaces of the City of Lima, Peru

Monday, 11 July 2016: 11:25
Location: Seminar 33 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Ana Maria HUAITA ALFARO, University College London, Peru
This study focuses on analysing the everyday commingling of people in urban public spaces with the intention of exploring the opportunities these could open for city dwellers to develop a sense of the city as common and a politics of being together led by a public culture of civic involvement. In that sense, this study proposes to analyse how contemporary urban spaces and the politics of the everyday life are experienced - and potentially reworked - by looking at the being-together of people around food in marketplaces.

The urban order, infrastructure and materialities, as well as the individuals and groups sharing the city are (re)interpreted through experiences of co-presence, in which diverse actors are exposed to likewise diverse imaginaries about the city and different others. In this regard, marketplaces are particularly interesting locations for this study given their still central role in the provisioning of food and livelihoods, as well as on the social and spatial configuration of many cities. Furthermore, this research attempts to generate insights about the way food takes part in the renegotiation of cultural constructions in which tensions of urban coexistence rely.

This research is situated in the city of Lima, Peru, where neoliberal visions of urban development reinforce persistent social tensions and inequalities through the various spaces of the everyday life. Those related to food and culinary activities are not exempted from these influences. An example of this is the current ‘gastronomic boom’ of Peruvian food, in which public and traditional spaces for food consumption have recovered relevance for city dwellers. This is bringing about positive economic outcomes, but the sociocultural implications are yet to be associated. Therefore, looking at food marketplaces provides an interesting approach to a potential renegotiation of people’s visions and relations to the city and to its diverse dwellers.