Across cities, street vendors work under intense economic and social uncertainties. Mexico City is not an exception, with a long history of social and political conflicts revolving around the regulation and use of public space. The impermanence in public space is a constant in vendors' lives, leaving them at risk of being harassed by local authorities and evicted from their physical locations. The main reasons for their displacement are the construction of urban renewal projects and the shift of governmental officials which, forcing them to continuously renegotiate their physical and political positions in the city. Scholars have identified that the risk of being displaced or relocated is one of the vendors’ top causes of chronic stress, a practice that is intensified with urban renewal projects and political elections (Skinner 2011, Swanson, 2007; Giglia, 2013). Thanks to the Tinker Fellowship, I was able to travel to Mexico City and explore specifically: 1) How street vendors claim their use of public space in different locations of the city. 2) The links between street vending and health to identify which risk factors are the most detrimental for vendors’ wellbeing. I found that more socially cohesive groups of vendors were constituted by neighbors that have a closer relationship with the leader of the vending organization, being able to claim their right to work and protect themselves from outsiders and local authorities. For future work, my doctoral research will highlight the tensions between formal and informal politics, street vendors’ aspiration for social mobility, and the impact of urban renewal projects on vendors’ health outcomes.
November 22, 2021