Local Retail Vibrancy in Sobro Bronx

I didn’t know where to go. I didn’t know where I wanted to go. Walking down the streets of Bronx, I felt lost. Lost but in peace. Bronx was definitely not Manhattan – there were no buildings ominously towering over my head, shielding the blue sky from my sights, imposing a sense of intimidation, a sense of belittlement. Walking away from the jungles of gray to a place so free of noise, so free of traffic, so free of people, I felt a wild sense of unease, and at the same time a sense of pleasure from liberation. It seemed that the perils of perfect competition has not yet reached the borough.

Wandering aimlessly through the borough, I was amazed by how little there was. Coming from Midtown, Manhattan, where you can spot at least one Duane Reade or a CVS every 3 blocks, the scarcity of convenient stores, let alone shops, was pretty bizarre. I did come across several small size grocery stores, but it seemed that in order to access a diverse array of produce – like those in Whole Foods, or Trader Joe’s for example – the residents would need a car to go to a larger shopping mall.

In that, I could definitely feel how Bronx emanated a different “affect” from Manhattan. In Vibrant Matter, Brennett argues, “there is transmission by which people become alike and transmission in which they take up opposing positions in relation to a common affective thread. The form of transmission whereby people become alike is a process whereby one person’s or one group’s nervous and hormonal systems are brought into alignment with another’s.” Similarly, I could definitely see that the residents of Bronx uniformly exhibited a rather laid-back, easy going, calm “affect,” in contrast to the people in Manhattan who seems to be always driven, busy, and indifferent to their surroundings. It was interesting to see how the affect of the setting could differ so drastically even in a borough only a few subway stations away from Manhattan.

The difference in affect has nudged me to wonder where the difference in affect stems from. In Media Ecologies, Fuller describes the term media ecologies as “environmentalism: using a study of media to sustain a relatively stable notion of human culture.” The term also includes the study of information flows, such as the “interrelationship with knowledge and time management processes.” For this project, I also hope to study the reason behind the way the borough is shaped in the way it has, and why it seems to attract a certain demographic with a particular affective quality that is so divergent from the people in Manhattan. Why is there a discrepancy in the topographical layout of the borough, and how can we stimulate the local economy to minimize the discrepancy in retail vibrancy?

For my next visit to the cite, I hope to visit some of the shopping districts of Southern Bronx, and observe the shopping habits of the residents.


Work Cited:

Bennett, Jane. Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things. Duke University Press, 2010.

Fuller, Matthew. Media ecologies: materialist energies in art and technoculture. The MIT Press, 2007.



~ by sujiahn on February 14, 2018.

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