Catering authenticity. Ethnic food entrepreneurs as agents of gentrification.


Ethnic cuisines are an integral part of gentrifying neighborhoods in Berlin. This is not surprising, since the consumption of authenticity plays a decisive role in commercial gentrification. However, while there have been many studies on artists and white creative entrepreneurs as facilitators of urban upgrading, only few research has focused on the active role of ethnic entrepreneurs in selling culture in commercial gentrification. In this article, we want to ask how ethnic food entrepreneurs stage authenticity and create new tastes in Berlin’s gentrification in their ethnically marketed restaurants. How does this relate to their positioning towards the city and towards commodified ethnicities? And what role do social backgrounds and dispositions of consumers play in this staging? To answer these questions, we embed the topic in three theoretical discourses at the interface of migration and urban research: ethnic commodification, commercial gentrification and migrant entrepreneurship. We then present two cases as examples of entrepreneurial distinction practices in different settings and periods of Berlin’s gentrification: an orientalized Arab snack bar in the early 2000s in Prenzlauer Berg, and a Vietnamese breakfast restaurant in 2017 in the rapidly gentrifying neighborhood of Neukölln. With these two examples we point to critical aspects that shape migrant entrepreneurs‘ selling strategies in gentrification, such as the representation of an ethnic group within a city, the phase and local context of gentrification as well as political paradigms of urban regeneration. In Berlin, the two case studies relate to the overlapping shift from a “multicultural-differentiated” to a “cosmopolitan-diversified” city.

Stock, Miriam/Schmiz, Antonie, Catering authenticity. Ethnic food entrepreneurs as agents of gentrification, In: City, Culture and Society, Online First,

Juniorprof. Dr. Miriam Stock
Prof. Dr. Antonie Schmiz