Past and Future Embedded in the Present: A Cultural History of a Local Shopping Street

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


Most of the literature accumulated around retail change derive a linear, progressive understanding, typically coined with the term “retail evolution”. Once it is formulated as such, a need for adopting a historical perspective to study present becomes superfluous, because the past is understood as something that is left behind, something incapable of making an impact on the present. In this research, taking a local shopping street, it is showed that present is an assemblage of different material and sensorial layers of past and imagined futures, and the street’s retail history has had a fluctuating, non-linear, circular and accumulative character. Likewise, it has been in dynamic relationship with cultural manifestations of consumers, and also their shopping performances.
Södergatan is the main shopping street of the stigmatized district Söder in Helsingborg, a middle-size city in south Sweden. Söder was established as a working-class district in the mid 19th century, and thereby Södergatan functioned as a retail geography primarily serving the needs of the working-class families living in the area. Starting from the1910s, gradually, more modern retail formats, such as department stores, supermarkets, and national and international chain stores made an entrance, which enabled novel ways of shopping. After the 1980s, along with global trends, independent retailers and service stores expanded in the retail geography once again, this time it was transcultural migrant entrepreneurs who run the retail places. Finally, in the last couple of years, a number of new construction and renovation projects have been initiated in Söder, including a high-class hotel, a bohemian art gallery, and renovation of the old local shopping mall to upscale experience and residential center, which facilitated multiple future scenarios.
The study is based on analysis of written and visual historical documents, and visual ethnographic research conducted on consumers’ shopping performances on the street.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Social Sciences Interdisciplinary


  • Local Shopping Street, Local High Street, Cultural History, Retail History
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Publication categoryResearch
EventAnnual Conference of International Society of Cultural History (ISCH): Performance, Politics, and Play - Colombia University, New York, United States
Duration: 2018 Sep 132018 Sep 16


ConferenceAnnual Conference of International Society of Cultural History (ISCH)
Abbreviated titleISCH
CountryUnited States
CityNew York
Internet address

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