Alexandros Daniilidis
Research student (Media and Film)
E:

Research

My major research interest is public markets/food arcades as genuine public, social spaces. 

Apart from historically essential sites of provisions and food, public markets have also contributed in the formation of the public sphere, social space and political debates. Furthermore, markets are a unique site of cultural and commercial activities. As the renowned Italian chef Massimo Bottura has remarked: "In order to understand a nation's culture you need to visit their public markets"

Currently, I am focusing in Thessaloniki's prominent historic public markets (Modiano Food Arcade, Kapani Public Market and Bezesteni Retail Market). The aim of my research is to highlight and showcase the importance of these sites as a cultural heritage for the city, as a factor of social development and as a regulator in the construction of social urban space, identity and memory in the times of financial crisis and ongoing privatization.

The methodological approach will be implementing a sensorial ethnographic framework that will include oral histories (informal interviews with traders, historians, academics and members of the general public), on-site empirical observations as well as online questionnaires in order to extract both primary and secondary qualitative data (this would include observations gathered as a bystander within the sites of research;headcount during specific times of the day, recording of the uses within the markets, sensorial recordings, sites and situations that attract the public etc).

Research proposal summary: 

The study of public markets is a multidisciplinary process that draws upon various epistemological fields within the scope of urban/cultural studies, ethnography, sociology of the senses and history. Since ancient times, public markets have been important social spaces that contributed to local community both as a factor of economic development and as a public stage for social interaction and representation of different social and/or ethnic groups. The latter is the main framework that informs this research proposal, the context of which is to examine public (urban) markets as sites of urban cultural heritage under the scope of memory production, sense of place and space of representation for both the general public and those whose everyday life has been associated with the sites. The aim of this research project is to examine and record how both tangible (bodily experience) and intangible (senses, memory) dimensions of the public market relate and contribute to the city's cultural heritage, collective memories, shared identities and 'sense of place' associated with the site. Therefore, key research questions that will be addressed are: Which aspects of the market's dimensional multiplicity form and preserve people's memories associated with the site? How multiculturalism relates and informs the democratic dimension of public markets? Is the marketplace a place of cultural contestation and commodification in an era of privatization and hyper commercialization? In order to meet the project’s aim, a site-specific ethnographic approach will be adopted by implementing the proposed theoretical framework on the Greek city of Thessaloniki, a case study with rich cultural history and heritage. This would include some of the city’s most prominent public markets, namely Modiano Food Arcade, which was constructed in 1925 in the fashion of great European arcades of the time, Kapani (Vlali) Open Market whose function traces back to the Ottoman years and, supplementary, the 15th century-built Bezesteni Retail Market, which is a brilliant example of traditional Ottoman market architecture.

Modiano Market, Thessaloniki, Greece...Where East meets WestVlali (Kapani) Market