PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2015, Vol. 34 ›› Issue (4): 505-516.doi: 10.11820/dlkxjz.2015.04.012

• Social and Cultural Geography • Previous Articles     Next Articles

A comparative research on local construction of space of nostalgia and consumption: a case study of nostalgic restaurants in Guangzhou

Fan LI1(), Rong YANG1,2, Liping HUANG1   

  1. 1. Tourism Department, Foshan University, Foshan 528000, Guangdong, China
    2. Center for Cultural Industry and Cultural Geography, South China Normal University, Guangzhou 510631, China
  • Online:2015-04-10 Published:2015-04-10


The fashion of urban nostalgic consumption has penetrated into many a field of the socio-cultural life. A great number of nostalgic restaurants have emerged out of the trend, producing urban nostalgia-themed special spaces of consumption and culture. With the interplay between global and local consumptive cultures, the form of local cultures has been constantly changing. As a result of this change, it becomes more urgent to explore the differences existing in the local construction of various spaces of nostalgic consumption. This research selected two distinctive local restaurants, Tai Ping Koon Restaurant and Brothers Nostalgic Café, as objects for the case study. Based on qualitative research methods including participant observation, in-depth interview, questionnaire survey, and text analysis with a collection of media reports and internet discussion data, this article analyzes the local construction of nostalgic restaurants and place identity from the dimensions of material and emotional spaces. The findings include: (1) Through the presentation and performance of memory, either the re-making of traditions under the gaze of memory (the case of Tai Ping Koon Restaurant) or the traditional re-making under the orientation of nostalgic consumption (the case of Brothers Nostalgic Café) should be seen as constructed forms of the materialized space of consumption in view of adapting to the prevalence of global culture. This, to some extent, feeds back into Zukin's view about restaurant as an integration of globalization and localization. (2) It is the consumers who have shaped the emotional spaces for place of nostalgia and made sense of place identity. As constructed "imagined place," spaces of nostalgic consumption are different from the "authentic place" and the construction of emotional spaces for both of them also varies, being influenced to a great extent by factors such as place embeddedness. (3) The evolvement of spaces of nostalgic consumption is under the influence of the dynamics of the locality, the marketing mechanism, as well as postmodernist consumptive patterns. The extent of place embeddedness determines how spaces of nostalgic consumption evolve and will be located. The deeper the locality embedded, the better the local constructions of material and emotional spaces integrate (the case of Tai Ping Koon Restaurant). However, under the influence of postmodernist consumptive patterns and the marketing mechanism, the evolvement of simulated spaces of nostalgic consumption becomes undetermined due to the lack of local authenticity. This research is instrumental in strengthening the interpretation of the local construction of spaces of nostalgic consumption from the perspective of new cultural geographical studies and also provides a useful reference for advising on the production and practices of spaces of nostalgic consumption for cities undergoing dramatic urban regenerations at present.

Key words: space of nostalgia and consumption, local construction, place identity, nostalgic restaurant