Food Adventures, Recognition and Othering: Enacting cosmopolitanism in Vietnamese bistros in Prague
(Faculty of Social Sciences, Charles University)
Paper short abstract:
Based on ethnographic research in Vietnamese bistros in inner Prague and at a Vietnamese open market at the edge of Prague, the paper discusses an interplay between recognition of Vietnamese minority, practices of orientalistic Othering and enacting of consumers´ cosmopolitanism.
Paper long abstract:
This paper discusses socio-spatial consequences of production-consumption processes that enact Vietnamese cuisine as is served in Prague. While by the end of the 90s´ the attitude of Czechs to the Vietnamese living in the Czechia was in its majority dismissive, at the beginning of new millennium this relationship is rapidly changing. I argue that a significant role in these changing patterns of interethnic relations have, among others, a celebritization of Vietnamese cuisine as is observable since 2000´s. The growing popularity of Vietnamese food has its spatial consequences. A map of the time-space distribution of Vietnamese bistros in Prague reveals how new forms of entrepreneurship in gastronomy have taken the Vietnamese out of relative invisibility, closer to the Czech customer and coproduce cosmopolitan character of inner Prague neighbourhoods. The paper argues, that ethnic cuisine, advertising by food columnists, food bloggers and by guided tours to the Vietnamese open markets, enabled the Vietnamese to be active elements in the contemporary transformations of urban space. Enactments of highly evaluated authenticity and the diffusion of Vietnamese bistros and restaurants have its effects. 1) Changes the relationship between the Czechs and Vietnamese, 2) results to new types of consumption among Czech urban consumers, 3) contributes to the local development of global foodie culture, and, 4) reshapes the understanding of "the exotic Other". The scope of my arguments is based on my ethnographic research in Vietnamese bistros in the city and at the main Vietnamese open market at the edge of Prague.
Ethnographies of food inclusion and exclusion [Anthropology of Food Network]