Spacing juxtapositions

Image

Finding space in a neoliberal city

Jordan road runs along the edge of Mong Kok.  As one progresses down the street  towering behind is the ICC building, which completed in 2010 is the worlds fifth tallest building and bosts a hotel that has the highest lobby. The street runs through a market district with side streets are impassable in a car becasue of market stalls and street hawkers (leagal and illeagal) physically stand in the way automobiles while the throngs of people make other forms of mobility also as impossible. Continue reading

We need to talk about hunger

Image

If you look through the door of my pantry you will see a window into my world.  My pantry expresses my likes and dislikes and my cultural background by the presence and absence of certain goods. You will also see that in my house, we are not hungry.  I have been hungry in the past.  I plan against this by stocking up for the possibility that there might come a day when I might not have money.  It isn’t an entirely rational approach to domestic food provisioning as it is a practice that produces waste.  But, I always know where my next meal is coming from.  And I also know I am lucky to be able to be so potentially wasteful. My household budget is shaped by my past experience of hunger.  I am sure I am not alone, but for some reason hunger is not a fashionable term these days.  What is that all about?

Continue reading

Holiday feastings and meanings of fresh

Chatsworth EstateChristmas dinner is always a bit of a challenge in our house.  In the period before we moved to Hong Kong I would always cook a whole salmon.  The first year we lived in Hong Kong, I ventured to the wet market to purchase a fish.  Salmon are not widely available in Hong Kong, certainly not in the markets, so I got some other fish.  I’ve still no idea what it was, but I do know we all got really ill.  For the next two years I ordered the whole meal from a restaurant in Sai Kung, which arrived hot and tasted lovely, but was mostly turkey imported from the US.  This year I am cooking venison purchased locally.  What strikes me about this tale of food feasts is what we understand about what comprises fresh food and how that is so linked up with cultural differences.

Continue reading

Driers of fish and hewers of place

Image

Hewers of fish

While the word hue refers to colour, to be a hewer is to be someone who carves out. When I was in graduate school, one of the more influential papers I read was written by geographer Kathy Gibson. The paper, titled “Hewers of cake and drawers of tea”, was an analysis of class struggle and gender in the face of miners strikes in Queensland, Australia. The point of the paper was to illustrate the importance of domestic activity and women’s work in the reproduction of conditions under which strike action is made possible.  Indeed, strike times, as well as times of employment and plenty, are sustained by the graft of women and the community in which and through which they forge their domestic craft. It is often through ordinary activities, such as cooking, from which social life is hewn. Continue reading

Metaphor of the down escalator: Zimbabwe and the decent into food insecurity.

Image

What, you may ask, does a shopping mall in Hong Kong have to do with the food situation in Zimbabwe?  Well, I’ll tell you.  When we first moved to Hong Kong, people told me that Grace Mugabe has been frequently spotted shopping at this mall.  Apparently the Mugabe’s have a house in a development known as The Beverly Hills in Hong Kong. True or not, I am not certain.  There is clear evidence that the Mugabe’s have access to cash and a will to spend it. What is also certain is that the situation in Zimbabwe is still critical as the industry is in free fall (see this report) and the UN World Food Programme is predicting that the upcoming months will bring the worst ‘Hunger Season’ in years (see the report (here). Continue reading

Carefree in Stanley

Belgian Beer and a view of Murray House

Belgian Beer and a view of Murray House

One of the things I like best to do on a sunny day in Hong Kong is go to Stanley.  This small and rather upscale village on the far side of Hong Kong Island takes some energy and effort to get to, but here you can sit behind a Belgian beer and watch the ships on the horizon go by on their way to distant ports. The combination of journey, beer, and view provide a sense of holiday for the few hours one spends in this place.  But Stanley was not always such a carefree place, and indeed for some it is a place where although cared for, the circumstance is not free.

Continue reading