Drunk with Power: The Politics of Guesthood and Hunger

By Tom Galaraga.

Published by Spaces and Flows: An International Journal of Urban and ExtraUrban Studies

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

It’s not a surprise that a history of law, policy, and regulation accompanies the development of the streets of Los Angeles. In the late 1930s, the Yellow and Red Cars—electronic public trolleys—began disappearing; no doubt the result of GM’s actions. This violent taking over of the streets, public spaces and modes of transportation, ultimately transformed the city space and sensibilities of L.A. Quite simply, L.A. was becoming a car town.

Today, the streets remain a sought after resource. On the East Side, struggles to control how and by who the streets are used have resulted in the rupturing of smaller, local communities. This legal contest—fueled primarily by the digital activism of hipsters and celebrities—indicates both a transformation in the cultural landscape, and the renegotiation of local sensibilities.

Taco truck operators now find themselves under legal fire from brick-and-mortar storefront owners. To these owners who currently view street-food culture as a threat, the legal right for loncheros to conduct business on public streets is a right that threatens their own financial livelihood, not to mention the communities they serve. Many have banded together to protect the rights of the lonchero.

In East L.A., as taco trucks continue to be defended via the flow of digital communications, we should continue to interrogate how the cultural and material spaces have been transformed—this paper will attempt to do that. Specifically, this paper will examine how this legal contest has pitted locals—who occupy diverging perspectives regarding how the streets should be used, spaces defined—against one another in a battle not only for space, but also for cultural identity. Theoretically, it will question how we must reconsider the boundaries of culturally productive spaces, and the range of political actors mobilized in light of digital activism, blogger-politics and cultural mapping.

Keywords: Food, Technology, Internet, Los Angeles, Urban, City, Taco Truck, Mobile Food, Derrida

Spaces and Flows: An International Journal of Urban and ExtraUrban Studies, Volume 1, Issue 3, pp.49-62. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 845.240KB).

Dr. Tom Galaraga

University of California, Davis, USA

In his work, Tom historicizes the attempts of the United States Federal government to legally regulate public forms of communication. More specifically, he points out that “access” is regulated by a series of laws and policies that seemingly emphasize the threat of an impending national crisis or disaster, and that subsequently, see it fit to suspend certain rights to privacy and personhood while notions of safety and security are re-established. The current form of regulation that now dictates the development and usage of the digital communications infrastructure in the United States is no different, and follows a similar trend. Unfortunately, what is emphasized in these regulations is a growing condition of vulnerability that seems to increase as each technologic step is taken toward progress. In these cases, the potential of a device is no longer measured in regards to its communications capacity, but is now thought of—and regulated—according to its latent destructive power.