Hipsters, Foodies and Tourists


Photograph by Richard Ricciardi

From Eurozine:

Discussions about pricing are also connected to narratives concerning the kind of people who enjoy the market’s food, which seems not to appeal to the appetite of the area’s average resident. Visitors to the market are categorized into three groups that are the subject of recurring criticism: hipsters, foodies and tourists. These are not clear-cut categories, but they are still used to negotiate issues surrounding inclusion and boundaries in relation to the assemblage.

The notion of the hipster, referred to by almost everyone I talked to, is not clearly defined and “seems to be used as if its meaning was universally fixed and transparent, while in reality its meaning is opaque and fluid”. Hipsters have become associated with gentrification processes that change the material infrastructure of a city into a “hipster infrastructure”. In the context of the market, hostility towards hipsters stems from an underlying fear of further gentrification and displacement, and a perception of the hall as one of those pieces of hipster infrastructure that has lost its function as a neighbourhood space.

Combined with the notion of the foodie, this deepens the roots of suspicion towards the hall. Again, this speaks of processes of social exclusion through elitism. Being a foodie is seen as a privilege that cannot be enjoyed without adequate economic and cultural capital. It is certainly interesting to note that the notion of a foodie focuses on the type of consumer – not necessarily the type of food. The relation to food and food culture is overshadowed by this meta-narrative, which partially inhibits residents’ serious engagement with the food offered in the market, keeping them from entering a hall where they feel they do not belong.

The third category, the tourist, is more complicated, since it not a theoretical construct. Tourists, thousands of whom visit the neighbourhood each year, are very much a reality. Still, distinguishing strictly between tourists and other categories (such as migrants, refugees, multilocals) remains problematic in the public debate about the touristification of Berlin. In the case of the market hall, this ambiguity finds expression in generalizations such as “they all fly in on Thursdays” and “no one even speaks German”. The (city-wide) discussion about tourism certainly influences perceptions of the hall and its operations, particularly as travel guides and blogs recommend a visit, thus raising the site’s profile yet further.

“Making the market”, Katharina Held, Eurozine