The Presence of the Possible in Everyday Practice: Supermarket Shopping as a Materially and Temporally Dislocated Practice

Authors: Aidan Hysjulien*, University of Georgia
Topics: Social Theory, Geographic Thought, Social Geography
Keywords: Presence-Absense, Subermarket, Everyday Practice
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/7/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: 8226, Park Tower Suites, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper uses qualitative interviews conducted with participants during a ‘regular’ trip a supermarket to argue that this everyday practice is a materially and temporally dislocated one in which the potentialities for futures shape the materialities of the present. Supermarkets are spaces of tension where attempts at subtle coercion entwine with the labor of assembling foods necessary for sustaining life. In hegemonic constructions of supermarket shopping, this work is understood in terms of choice, desire, preference, value, or taste; all neatly contained within materially and temporally isolated individuals. In the supermarket, the presence of absent futures emerges from the relations between the known necessities of the future, encounters with particular foods, and the emptiness of a future not-yet fully determined. As foods are considered and encountered an absent and partially undetermined future is filled by an imagined future that can become actualized. People translate future potentialities into present realities that work to shape and modify actions. The research presented here finds two keys ways this process unfolds. First is by enrolling future sensations of pleasure, smell, taste, and aesthetics. Second is by imagining a future within which it is possible to express an ethics of love and care for oneself, family, and community. Shopping in a supermarket does not only take place in the presence of foods themselves, it involves the presence of futures that are materially and temporally absent from the practice itself.

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