The world of kebab. Arabs and gastronomy in Warsaw
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This essay is a result of fieldwork carried out by me between April and August 2011 in various restaurants serving Arabic food in Warsaw. It is based on 30 indepth interviews not only with the owners of venues, but also their employees, and in some cases their families. According to M. Jackson, “storytelling mediates our relation with worlds that extend beyond us” (2002: 23), therefore I decided to let my interviewers concentrate on the issues that seemed most important to them. I represent these relations via quotations or description of their statements. My aim is to avoid showing Arabic owners and employees of kebab bars and restaurants in Warsaw as an “impersonal mass” (Malkki 1996: 378). I am aware of limits imposed by the intellectual traditions on Western social scientists who describe other cultures. On one hand, they claim to respect and represent the point of view of “Other” (Herzfeld 2001). Still, on the other hand, they are not able to succeed, because they will always remain external observers, outsiders (Geertz 1988). That is why I stressed the same points that were highlighted by my interlocutors. Due to that fact, many different areas of interest are included in this essay (such as problems faced by Arabic immigrants, education, lives, stereotypes, etc.), the order and links between subjects mentioned by my interlocutors reflects the same sequence chosen by my interviewees. Being aware of the short comings of this methodology, I decided to additionally apply participant observation and desk research as an additional approach.