(Sciences Po Paris/Designaffairs )
Paper Short Abstract:
This paper aims to study food trucks in Paris by asking how experiences around the food infrastructure shape the identities of city dwellers and redefine urban space. It also explores how exploring the digital space can contribute to the understanding of such phenomenon.
Paper long abstract:
This paper investigates the food truck phenomenon in Paris in three dimensions. First, it seeks to understand how the modern food trucks shape and reshape the identities of city dwellers. The food truck practices and the senses transform the identities and imaginaries of Paris inhabitants: they encourage non-binding sociality, liberate the locals from the strict French tradition, evoke voyage memories and serve as survival strategies for immigrants to connect to their homeland while asserting themselves into their new home. However, I argue that these experiences around the food trucks contribute not only to the process of social inclusion, but also an exclusion of certain populations in the city. Second, the paper investigates how the food trucks as a new food infrastructure redefines the meaning and use of urban spaces. While they can be considered as a tool to activate urban "dead spaces" as William H. Whyte has suggested, the study also shows how different approaches to senses by city authority and adversaries in the urban foodscape can bring barriers to such development. Finally, a mobile nature of the food trucks makes digital communication central to the phenomenon. The circulation of online images and information around the topic evokes sensory experiences beyond the physical space. I propose this as an alternative mean to explore the senses within the Parisian food truck phenomenon. Through an analysis of Instagram images and online information, the paper depicts how online users perceive the phenomenon and construct their food trucks imaginaries through the digital space.
New urban food practices and the senses in the city [Anthropology of Food]