Ordinary Practices – Extraordinary Lives

13 giugno 2024
Orario di inizio 
Palazzo di Sociologia - Via Verdi 26, Trento
Sala Riunioni 2° piano
Organizzato da: 
Rosa Miriam Salzberg
Comunità universitaria
Ingresso libero
Alison Brown, Cardiff University

This seminar is part of "Mobile Lives: Itinerant and Street Trades and the Informal Econom".

Keynote Lecture


  • Paolo Boccagni,Università di Trento 

Every day, millions of people in cities around the world seek their fortunes on the street.  Their livelihoods depend on small transactions, buying and selling basic foods and small consumer items to vulnerable and low-income urban populations.  Yet street trade has many hidden dimensions, linked locally through kinship and ethnicity to urban and political communities, and internationally through diasporas and trade routes to global supply chains. Although the livelihoods of many urban residents depend on street trade, a ‘reasoned reaction’ in today’s neoliberal economies, its poverty-reduction and economic development potential, and flexibility in response to digital trade is rarely recognised.  Local authorities react with benign neglect or open hostility leading to forced evictions which simply intensify poverty. 

Nevertheless, street trade, through ‘quiet encroachment of the ordinary’ (Bayat, 1997) transforms cities and neighbourhoods through vibrant and complex commercial interactions. This talk examines the many facets of 21st century street trade in different countries and continents, examining its role through the dimension of spaces of occupation claim; urban rights and legal challenge; grassroots action and political protest; international trade and its operation beyond borders; and urban resilience in conflict-affected cities.  The talk draws on over 20 years’ of research led by the Informality Research Observatory at Cardiff University, to challenge historical and contemporary conceptions of street trade.

Alison Brown is Professor of Urban Planning and International Development in the School of Geography and Planning, and Director for the Master’s in International Planning and Development. She is an urban planner and development policy expert with international experience in academia and professional practice in over 30 different countries, in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East. She is convenor of the School’s Informality Research Observatory.