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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The markets of Montpellier : food culture, identity and belonging in France Tchoukaleyska, Roza


Focusing on immigration, food consumption and cultural identity, this thesis examines the expression of ethnic identity in city spaces in France. Several months of ethnographic fieldwork in Montpellier, France centred on three of the city's food markets: two self-identified as farmer’s or organic, and one as North African. The sale of paysan goods at the farmer’s market sees shoppers and producers engage in a series of well-versed economic and cultural exchanges, revealing the importance of local production and consumption for the development of a distinct Montpelliérain identity. The market emerges as a politically and socially integrated community, a site of civic citizenship and regionalist sentiments. The North African market, recently displaced from its traditional plaza to a small parking lot, has an alternative character: a valued communitarian space for participants, it is a site of ethnic commerce and diverse consumption. Yet this space is externally perceived as a site of illegality and foreignness, with critics challenging the market’s legitimacy and campaigning for greater control on public space usage. In the contrasting experience of Montpellier’s outdoor food markets, I trace ongoing struggles to define local social and civic identities.

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