Princeton University Library Catalog

The Café: Power Dynamics in a Colombian Restaurant

Garavito, Maria [Browse]
Senior thesis
Rouse, Carolyn M. [Browse]
Princeton University. Department of Anthropology [Browse]
Class year:
Restrictions note:
Walk-in Access. This thesis can only be viewed on computer terminals at the Mudd Manuscript Library.
Summary note:
This thesis investigates the power dynamics of a small restaurant in Bogotá, Colombia based on eight weeks of fieldwork. The purpose of the project is to complicate the concept of power itself at the restaurant to show how it is always circulating (Foucault 1980) and can be affected both by the people and by the food of the café. This analysis includes a deconstruction of my positionality as a researcher and of the field of anthropology itself to examine the power dynamics inherent in ethnography, which was obviously a part of my experience with power at the restaurant. I then turn to the power in people by examining how different structured hierarchies at the café could be established, reinforced, or subverted by the workers themselves. This power is framed through Victor Turner’s concept of communitas and the interactions between the structured and unstructured (Turner 1966). My analysis of the power in people is then complicated through the power of food itself, as I examine how restaurants are uniquely affected by Gary Alan Fine’s concept of “the power of constraints” (Fine 1996: 194): that is, the power of food and foodways. I connect various aspects of running a business and the restaurant industry to the power of constraints, expand this power by including social, political, and economic constraints in my analysis, and demonstrate how the power of food and the power in people constantly interact and can, at times, run counter to each other. This is all in an effort to create a clear picture of the social world of the café and the power dynamics therein. In the end, what comes across most clearly is the importance of the everyday life of the café’s small social world.