My research is based on two street markets at Ridley Road and Broadway Market in Dalston, Hackney; a socially diverse, multi-ethnic, inner city neighbourhood. Both markets are largely based on fresh foods for sale. Dalston is currently undergoing a huge amount of regeneration, much of which is based around food. There are new cafes and restaurants opening, the area has a reputation as a 'foodie' destination, and there is a strong feeling of the pressures of gentrification on the older Ridley Road market and existing food-based businesses.
This research will analyse how the different communities and cultures interact during a time of rapid social change; how waves of immigration and the current influx of new-comers from the gentrification process impact on what food is eaten, and on what could be considered a local food culture. In particular it will focus on how the process of buying and consuming food can either help to bond a community and create a sense of belonging within, or cause a split and a sense of alienation between these different groups (whether ethnic groups or economic groups). The markets embody the questions and contradictions about living in such a culturally and economically diverse area and demonstrate two very different understandings of what ‘local community’ might mean. By both reflecting and feeding into tensions between and within the communities they serve, they reveal how public space is contested.