Placemaking in Koreatown: Brazilian Immigrant Entrepreneurship and Imaginaries

Authors: Flavia Maria Lake*, UCLA
Topics: Urban Geography, Migration, Ethnicity and Race
Keywords: placemaking, entrepreneurship, Brazilian immigrants
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/8/2021
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM
Room: Virtual 32
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


While immigrant entrepreneurship has largely been conceptualized as a means of socio-economic mobility, scholars are increasingly interested in the role immigrant-owned businesses play in materially and symbolically transforming the places in which they settle. This can be seen in studies on the economic impacts of urban revitalization (Kallick & Brick, 2015; Parzer, 2016) as well as the relationship between neighborhood branding and gentrification (Parzer & Huber, 2015; Schmiz & Hernandez, 2019). What these studies share is an attention to a relational understanding of place which has previously been overlooked by studies of immigrant entrepreneurship.

By examining a Brazilian immigrant-owned business in the Koreatown neighborhood of Los Angeles I explore its contribution to the clientele's imaginary of Brazil. I find that through its marketing, the business engages in ‘strategic spatial essentialism’ (Veronis 2007) in an attempt to attract “mainstream” clientele who are interested in appearing cosmopolitan. Furthermore, I find preliminary support that co-ethnic clientele experience the place differently with it serving as a source of community and identity-formation.

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