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Title: Lived Experience in a Neighbourhood Wet Market: Culture and Social Memories of a Disappearing Space
Keywords: economic anthropology, social memory, wet market, sociality, relational work, performance
Issue Date: 6-Nov-2013
Citation: GALVEZ VICTORIA FRANCESCA (2013-11-06). Lived Experience in a Neighbourhood Wet Market: Culture and Social Memories of a Disappearing Space. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: This thesis is an ethnography of Bedok Market, a neighbourhood wet market in Singapore, in which I strive to capture some sense of the variegated peoples, actions, and dynamics that compose the marketplace. In particular, I adopt a meaning-centred perspective to explore two constituents of the micro-level culture of Bedok Market ? the kinds of socialities, and dramaturgical ingredients that comprise what I call the theatre of buying and selling in this space. Hence, I elicit the complex everyday realities of two groups in the marketplace ? hawkers and customers. I argue that the `social? is a multiplicity of lived interactions and connections; the qualities of Bedok Market engineer a range of relationships in this space. A similar sense of diversity and differentiation surfaces when I consider four performance components that go into the drama of transactions ? the front stage set up; what hawkers call `the ability to talk?; the differentiation of customers; and the negotiation of price. There are many ways to enact these techniques; a spectrum of dramaturgical know-how proliferates. When this range is kept to, exchanges are free of conflict. Nevertheless, degrees of inclusion, exclusion, and asymmetry may influence transactions, and such interactions teem with tension. In recent years, a number of wet markets have vanished, and a flurry of memories has been released vis-a-vis these disappearances. While some stories recollect the multifarious rhythms of the marketplace, others do not. Therefore, I complement my ethnography with a narrative angle that builds upon marketplace culture. Speaking with four categories of people ? hawkers, customers, the National Heritage Board (NHB) staff and their collaborators, and heritage bloggers ? I contend that these groups (dis)engage marketplace culture, and ideas of nostalgia and heritage, to varying extents. Their tales too, lay out the disparate capacities and vested interests from which the various groups appropriate the marketplace.
Appears in Collections:Master's Theses (Open)

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