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Holes-In-The-Wall? Mobility Through Individually Owned Foreign Restaurants In Suzhou, China
Allison, Steven Phillip
Joassart-Marcelli, PascaleBosco, FernandoZhang, Zhengsheng
viii, 94 pages : graphs, maps, photographs
Beyond sustenance, culinary tastes and traditions come to represent place-based identities, and changing foodways indicate shifts in dominant ideas and the (re)definition of social barriers. This study investigates how food practices in Suzhou, China, can influence class identities and access to opportunity in the divided and globalizing city. China, with one of the most ancient culinary traditions in the world, and a complex system of cultural conventions surrounding food, represents an ideal site for investigating the relationship between food practices, social and class inclusion, and mobility. Suzhou, just east of Shanghai, is a growing city divided into districts increasingly defined along socioeconomic lines, with Western restaurants proliferating in the wealthier areas. Restaurants serving Western food appeared only 20 years ago, and are novel sites of transnational contact. They offer different ideas, interactions, and opportunities for both restaurant customers and staff alike. Their experiences in these spaces speak to the ways people can contend with class differences and unequal access to opportunity through food. For some of the diners, servers, and owners interviewed, navigating the socioeconomic pressures and barriers presented by an unequal urban environment involves frequenting Western restaurants. These unique spaces can facilitate the development of culinary or social practices and the production of new identities associated with desired social positions, both locally and globally.
Includes bibliographical references (pages 88-94).
Arts and Letters
Master of Arts (M.A.) San Diego State University, 2014
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