In the name of history: (De)Legitimising street vendors in New York and Rome

Thomas Devlin, Ryan ORCID: 0000-0001-8845-7301 and Piazzoni, Francesca
(2022) In the name of history: (De)Legitimising street vendors in New York and Rome. Urban Studies. 004209802210881 - 004209802210881.

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<jats:p> Policy makers across the Global North tend to remove poor and non-white vendors as inappropriate users of public space. Scholars have amply demonstrated that such removals reflect dominant aspirations of the present and future image of the city. But how do ideas about a city’s past help shape these aspirations? We compare how heritage, the socially constructed meanings through which people experience history, helps forge consensus over the legitimacy of vendors in Rome and New York. Vending has long allowed oppressed people to survive in both cities. These similar histories translate today into diverging attitudes. In Rome, a city branded as a site of (white) glory, authorities banish both long-standing Jewish vendors and newly arrived immigrants. In New York, mythicised as a place of success for immigrants, policy makers cannot always displace vendors who claim historical legitimacy. We explain these different conditions through a regimes of heritage framework. Using archival and ethnographic data, we examine whose voices count more in constructing each city’s past, what stories are told, and how these stories imbricate with existing political structures. Regimes of heritage, we find, help spatialise neoliberalism, differentiated citizenship, and authenticity. These dynamics highlight heritage as a critical, if underexplored agent of urban oppression and resistance. </jats:p>

Item Type: Article
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of the Arts
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 03 May 2022 11:48
Last Modified: 17 May 2022 12:11
DOI: 10.1177/00420980221088126