Current literature on drinking in social urban geography addresses the relationship between alcohol and place making. This paper aims to build on this literature by exploring how contested and shared meanings of place and identity within the Cape Town suburb of Salt River can be negotiated through drinking and drinking places. Salt River demonstrates a unique social and economic mix that defies assumptions in literature on traditional drinking places and those who frequent such spaces. There is a blurring of binaries between the formal and informal economic activities in the area, with stable and transient populations residing in spaces where gentrification and urban poverty are found side-by-side. The unique social mix in Salt River is mirrored in the diverse drinking spaces found within the suburb. Taverns, clubs, bars, shebeens and house based establishments all form part of Salt River's complex social mosaic, with people demonstrating different degrees of mobility in moving between different drinking places. Through an ethnographic study, this paper explores how people create meaning and identity in Salt River through drinking places. Drinking places become the nodes in Salt River's social-scape where people can interrogate their contested and shared meanings of place and identity. This analysis reveals that different drinking spaces throughout Salt River - places that blur social and economic boundaries, create and shape unique social and place identities that have not yet been accounted for in current geographic alcohol literature.
Blake, E. Imbibed identities : drinking people and place in Salt River, Cape Town. Presented at Association of American Geographers (AAG) annual meeting. (2012)