Mass Migration is the defining phenomenon of the twenty-first century. Today, 1 out of every 29 people live in a country that is different from the one that they were born in. Contrary to ethnic enclaves comprised of a dominate group, settlements with dense concentrations of ethnic diversity are emerging in cities around the world. Although multiethnic settlements are not a new phenomenon, contemporary immigrant neighborhoods are globally multifaceted in unprecedented ways. Such settlements are subsequently producing situations where more people, from more diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds, subject to more varied conditions of mobility and legal statuses, are coming into regular contact with one another than ever before. Understanding the implications of these urban reconfigurations is thus at stake since multiethnic settlements are generating new forms of prejudice, segregation, and inequality. As food practices are often responses to disparities that inevitably manifest from migration and capitalism, this dissertation examines the ways that restaurants and mobile food operations influence the spatial, social, and political elements of multiethnic settlements. It does so by examining ordinary activities centered around food in several ethnically diverse neighborhoods in Queens, New York. Employing ethnographic methods and critical cartography techniques, this dissertation specifically reveals that 1) multiethnic settlements emerged in Queens due to racial and ethnic discrimination that is deeply embedded in municipal policies, 2) restaurants and mobile food operations are everyday urban fluxes that not only set landscapes into motion, but are also integral features that complete a landscape’s composition, 3) the production, construction, selection, and consumption of comestibles in multiethnic neighborhoods are everyday processes and products of transnational placemaking that simplifies and erases complex and plural markers of difference, and 4) cooking, selling, and eating food on the street are performative practices of urban citizenship. In foregrounding the manifestation of multiethnic settlements vis-à-vis its built, social, and political dynamics, this dissertation offers the concept of the “multiethnic container” to explain the emergence of alternative urban and world orders.
The content below highlights everyday life in Queens, New York–the field site for my dissertation research