UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Weaving the threads of home : food, homemaking, and everyday stories of belonging inside Crystal Mall Zhou, Huabin


Located in Burnaby's Metrotown region, Crystal Mall is widely regarded as one of the most unique Asian ethnic malls in Metro Vancouver. Since its establishment in the year 2000, Crystal Mall has become one major landmark of the area and "a home away from home" for the Chinese immigrant communities as a vital social space. Unlike previous research on Chinese migration that prioritizes the notions of authenticity, identity, and ethnicity, this thesis explores how those Chinese immigrants working inside Crystal Mall's foodscapes cultivate a sense of belonging and "a feeling like home," particularly through food-related practices immediately on the heels of the COVID crisis. This paper investigates these employees' homemaking in Crystal Mall's food court and food market by analyzing the entanglement of people, things, and affect through everyday activities such as shopping, workplace refurbishing, and cooking homemade dishes. Crystal Mall's successful commercial-condominium system attracts recent Chinese immigrants seeking to start food businesses, and its built environment and abundant resources provide fertile ground for routinized and habitual practices related to foodways from back home. Through a relational lens that emphasizes movements, practices, and social relations, this thesis highlights how participants' constant homemaking practices in the public realm create a hybrid-domestic meshwork of people, food, and emotions, resulting in an experiential continuity and a sense of security, familiarity, and control in Crystal Mall's foodscapes.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International