An Interdisciplinary Collaboration

Dr. Mine Ucok Hughes and Dr. Tony Stovall from Department of Marketing and Dr. Rossen Ventzislavov, Associate Professor of Philosophy presented a joint project titled “Constructing a Narrative Identity of Los Angeles Through a Gastro-Noir Adventure” at the second Markets, Consumption and Culture Workshop held at University of California, Irvine on May 19th.

The presentation based on an interdisciplinary collaboration between the marketing and philosophy professors focused on Los Angeles Eats Itself, a thematic dining series co-created by Jason Keller, Visiting Professor at Department of Interdisciplinary Studies.

The joint research project studies the relationship between two types of identity—the personal identity of the particular urban dweller and the symbolic identity of the city taken as a dynamic totality. We see this relationship as a negotiation between narratives. On the one hand, cities give rise to dominant narratives, which include the historical record, urban legends and major branding campaigns. On the other hand, cities inspire and facilitate emergent narratives—stories that capture the personal, the particular and the idiosyncratic but find resonance beyond the private individual. Our hypothesis is that it is these emergent narratives that account for the dynamic personality of a city. They make social, cultural, economic and political change intelligible to us. The city is not a person but it lends itself to articulations of personhood similar to those that apply to any urban dweller. Our life stories are thus not merely responsive to the city’s symbolic identity but are also in equal measure constitutive of it.