Imaginative Geographies and Urban Space: Craft Beer in Portland, Maine

Authors: Benjamin Lisle*, Colby College
Topics: Cultural Geography, Urban Geography, United States
Keywords: imaginative geographies, beer, breweries
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: 8226, Park Tower Suites, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


What are the imaginative geographies of craft beer, and how might they shape the ways we consume and produce urban space? Using Portland, Maine as a case study, this paper examines the spatial imaginaries manufactured by representations of beer culture and space—through sources like newspaper and magazine travel guides, the Maine Beer Trail map (published by the Maine Brewers Guild), and the social media accounts of breweries and beer drinkers. The paper argues that these stories about craft beer and urban space cohere into self-reinforcing narratives about the value of place, craft, authenticity, and community; however, though these narratives can offer critiques of mass production and urban homogeneity, they often legitimize modes of urban experience and development that are pitched to and expressive of a relatively narrow cohort of urbanites. These imaginative geographies produce and reproduce these urban and consumerist subjects—including craft beer drinkers, brewery employees, urban planners, and urban developers—which has material consequences for the contemporary production of urban space.

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