The transnational table: food, space and everyday life of African migrants in Yeoville, Johannesburg

Dawson, Abigail
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This research report explores the relationship between migration, food and space in Yeoville, a suburb that has become emblematic of African diasporic settlement in Johannesburg. The report seeks to answer this broad question: What role does the sale, preparation and consumption of food have in the everyday cultural, social and economic lives of African migrants living in Yeoville? To answer it this study has focused on two locations. The first is the Yeoville market, a central point for the exchange and consumption of food for African migrants in Yeoville and Johannesburg. The second location is Araya Supermarket, an Ethiopian owned shop and restaurant. This study argues that through an engagement with these spaces migrants are able to recreate a sense of ‘home’. This is made possible through the layout and familiarity of products, the practice of routine and ritual eating and the relationships which are fostered in these places. This study argues that various changes have occurred in food practices as a result of migrants’ displacement. At the same time migrants have been active in the adaptation of recipes, cooking methods and ingredients to ensure they get the food they want and need. This study shows the social importance of food and eating for migrants and the resulting local and transnational relationships which allow these food enterprises to function. Finally, it argues that these places have a significant role in the economic advancement and opportunities migrants have access to, while still being largely precarious and exploitative pursuits.
A research report submitted in partial fulfilment to the degree Master of Arts in Development Studies in the School of Sociology, University of the Witwatersrand, March 2018
Dawson, Abigail Faith (2018) The transnational table : food, space and everyday life of African migrants in Yeoville, Johannesburg, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg,