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Voices in space: Making place through constructing Latinx foodscapes in Charlotte

Authors: Sara Tornabene*, UNC Charlotte
Topics: Food Systems, Immigration/Transnationalism
Keywords: Food landscapes, place-making, Latinx migrants, Charlotte
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Cities in the US Southeast, such as Charlotte, NC, have experienced a rapid influx of migrants
since 2000 alongside growing flows of global capital that are restructuring urban and suburban
landscapes. Latinx migrants pursue inclusion and make place through creating new food
landscapes in traditional gateways, suburban destinations, and rural areas. In such foodscapes,
new restaurants, grocery stores, food trucks, and community gardens tell stories of migrant
histories and cultures while also serving as community gathering spaces. Relying on semistructured
interviews with food business owners, observation of foodscapes, and a discourse
analysis of online restaurant reviews, this paper explores how storytelling has been employed in
the making and remaking of Latinx migrant foodscapes in Charlotte. It highlights the
contestation and anti-immigrant sentiment spurred by migrant place-making activities, especially
as they complicate traditional black-white dichotomies in the region and are forced to move
throughout the city due to redevelopment processes. Such intra-urban mobility of place-making
practices risks breaking down social networks, diminishing social integration, and limiting
economic opportunity. Examining the spatial stories told in the construction of migrant food
landscapes provides important avenues for rethinking migrant foodways and their integration
into new locales. As such, this paper considers the materialities of place-making evident in
producing, consuming, and sharing food alongside the ways in which migrants negotiate and
communicate their place in social structures through stories about food and home. The paper
brings together literature in critical food studies, migration, and food rhetoric as constitutive
parts for producing Latinx foodscapes.

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