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Kampung Peneleh

Technologizing Foodscapes: Neighborhood Autonomy in the Making of Place assemblies 

Emerging Issues 

Left: Making of bongko mentuk (Sketch by Soeyanti, 2019); Right: Making of kroket (Photo by Rita Padawangi, 2019)

How do technological changes in everyday practices affect the livelihood of Southeast Asia’s neighbourhoods? Over the past four years, Kampung Peneleh, under the Southeast Asia Neighborhoods Network (SEANNET), was discovered as one of the significant ‘foodscapes’ in this urban kampung. In encounters with the SEANNET Surabaya team, community members identified culinary traditions, such as kroket, bongko mentuk, and krupuk payus, as special characteristics and pride of the neighborhood. Foodscapes also intersect with time and the built environment, as observed in the association of mobile food vendors with certain spaces, nodes of activities, and time of the day. 

Amidst the recent pandemic, the roles of online application-based delivery and transportation platforms become more significant in the city. Mobility restrictions urge most people to intensify the use of these platforms, especially the online food delivery services such as “GrabFood” by Grab and “GoFood” by Gojek. The food delivery service itself had been the prime revenue generator for Gojek since before the pandemic. This great deal of usage of these online food delivery services signifies a transition from offline to online-based services which may become a disruption to the current socio-economic activities. 

Online food delivery services interweave with existing time-space relationship of foodscapes in the neighborhood and are likely to affect practices and livelihoods. For example, Kampung Peneleh practices a collectively agreed rule that disallows motorcycles to pass through the neighborhood’s alleyways with their engines on. Therefore, the delivery person, who usually uses a motorcycle, has to park the vehicle outside the neighborhood and walk to the customer’s house. The encounter between local norms and the ‘aftermath’ of the transition towards a new technological setting creates dynamic dialogues and contradictions that develop through time. These dynamics might take shape in shifting, adjusting, and altering of norms, behaviour and spatial setting within the neighbourhood. 

Neighbourhood-community-city-state relationships

Aerial photograph of Kampung Peneleh in central Surabaya, bounded in red (Source: Google Maps)

Kampung Peneleh is not the only one that has encountered this new flow of food distribution since the beginning of GoFood and GrabFood. Specifically, this transition affected the whole city of Surabaya. Given the relative autonomy of neighbourhoods in local decisions and interventions, it takes a closer look into the community to uncover the extent of online-offline spatial relations in everyday life. Many kampungs in Surabaya – the second largest city in Indonesia – are associated with culinary traditions, forming a geographical culinary map of the town. Furthermore, each neighbourhood has its local food vendors and government-supported local food programs through the formation of small-medium enterprises (UMKM). The local food vendors, small-medium enterprises, and culinary traditions are potentially affected by this technological transition. This could potentially raise contradictions that will bring another dynamic to the neighborhoods’ livelihoods. 

Relevance to SEANNET Collective 

The proposed visions in the workplan of SEANNET Collective align with our purposes as researchers as well as as an institution. In addition, as a platform, program, and community, SEANNET Collective invites cross-collaboration initiatives and community-engaged research which focuses on everyday lived realities, together with generating pedagogical approaches, which are in line with our institutional aspirations. The activities under SEANNET Collective will enhance our efforts to carry the voices from the ground in many forms of academic outputs. 

Research Focus and Proposed Methodology. 

How do technological changes in everyday practices affect livelihoods of Southeast Asia’s neighborhoods? How do residents utilize, resist, and appropriate the online spaces in their foodscapes? To what extent does the imposition of the online food delivery platforms affect foodscapes in the neighborhood and impact the everyday practices and spaces? 

We will use oral history to uncover the historical background of food culture in Kampung Peneleh, and how that situates the neighborhood in the city. We will conduct participant observation, with lived-in researcher(s) in the field to gain a deep understanding of the everyday practices in the community. We will also use qualitative interviews with members of the community, especially those in the local food business and their regular customers, to examine the narratives of their experience in the interaction with online foodscapes since 2015. 

Institution The Fakultas Ilmu Budaya/FIB (Faculty of Humanities) Universitas Airlangga Surabaya, located in Surabaya, the second-largest city in Indonesia, emphasises the cultural development of the urban society. SEANNET Collective’s emphasis on community engagement and collaborations between university and community aligns with FIB-Unair’s mission to implement Tri Dharma Perguruan Tinggi (Three Principles of Higher Education) that brings together teaching, research, and community engagement. Researchers and Community Partners Researchers
Ikhsan Rosyid (Universitas Airlangga) Local PI Lecturer in Economic History
Kukuh Yudha Karnanta (Universitas Airlangga) Local PI Lecturer in Indonesian Literature
Adrian Perkasa (PhD Candidate, Leiden University) International PI Lecturer in History at Universitas Airlangga  
Anton Novenanto (Universitas Brawijaya) International PI Lecturer in Sociology and Anthropology
Awang Firmansyah (Universitas Negeri Surabaya) Collaborator Lecturer in Sport Sciences & Secretary of ASEAN Study Centre
Eka Nurul Farida Research Assistant
Muhamad Rohman Obet Research Assistant