Thursday, 4 December 2008

RGS CFP (8) Beyond Home and Family: Alternative Spaces of Ethno-Consumption

With commodities and consumption firmly embedded in geographic research and debates (Bridge and Smith, 2003; Goss, 2006; Mansvelt, 2008), the important roles that material culture and consumption play in locating and embedding migrant identities are now increasingly recognised. Homespaces, as sites of consumption and performances of ethnicity, have been especially closely investigated (Petridou, 2001, Tolia-Kelly, 2004; Walsh, 2006; Miller, 2008).

With so much research focusing on ‘home’ and ‘family’, however, the intense emotional connections between ethnicity, migration, consumption and material culture which take place beyond the immediate spaces of home and family need more attention. There are countless other arenas where this relationship can be studied: ‘ethnic’ retailing; the consumer behaviour of migrants and ethnic minorities; uses of space in specialist shops (Bonus, 2000); the social functions of specialist shops (Hamlett et al., 2008; Rabikowska and Burrell, 2009); the development of key migrant shopping areas (Roman- Velazquez, 1999; Li, 2005; Duruz, 2005); and shops and services as meeting points between minority and majority communities (Wang & Lo, 2007). Similar scrutiny can be applied to other experiences of ‘ethno-consumption’ (Ekstrom, 2004) such as beauty services, magazines, internet sites, dress and fashion, restaurants and cinemas (Puwar, 2007).

This session seeks to interrogate these ethno-consumer connections, looking beyond homespaces and family units to consider the emotional geographies at play in alternative, and often hidden, spaces of ethnicity and consumption.

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