Call for Papers: Contesting the Streets II: Vending and Public Space in Global Cities

Deadline: 15 April 2015 - 12:00am

Dates: 2 - 3 October 2015


Where: Los Angeles, USA

Venue: University of Southern California

In large cities around the world, the most contested public space is the streets and accompanying sidewalks. As a result of historic migration and immigration to urban centers, the spatial projects vying for this space have multiplied. In particular, the growth of street vending causes us to reconsider some of the fundamental concepts that we have used to understand the city. Vending can be seen as a private taking of public space. It can contribute to civic vitality as well as be an impediment to traffic flow. Vendors are often micro-entrepreneurs who cannot access the private real estate market as spaces for livelihood. The issues about the legitimate use of public space, the right to the city, and local ordinance enforcement/dereliction are often complicated by class conflict as well as the street vendors’ diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds, and their migrant/immigrant status. As a result, recent street vendors’ challenges and protests have been important catalysts with far-reaching political implications about the future of our urban societies.

This symposium brings together scholars and practitioners in dynamic dialogue to present empirical cases (both contemporary and historical) and larger global trends. While vending and public space has been the subject of acrimonious debate in many cities between vendors, local government, formal business and property owners, community organizations, pedestrians and alternative mobility groups, it has also been the impetus for some innovative mixed-use and inclusive arrangements for sharing urban space. Since in our largest, densest cities, local governments, urban planners, and citizens will have to find new ways to plan, design, and govern this precious urban public space, this symposium particularly seeks to shed light on possible futures and the key narratives that will need to be re-written. Towards this end, this symposium extends the first Contesting the Street conference that was held at UCLA in 2010, by expanding the geographic focus of the inquiry beyond (while still including) the Americas to gain comparative insights. We have exciting keynote speakers that we are lining up, including Saskia Sassen, Margaret Crawford, and Ananya Roy as well as a reception of digital media art of the city that will be held at USC’s Cinema school, catered by Roy Choi’s Kogi truck.

We welcome the submission of original, empirical papers. Papers from a variety of disciplinary perspectives are encouraged. We will offer a limited amount of travel support for selected papers to be presented at the symposium.

Furthermore, a subset of papers that are presented will constitute a special issue that the symposium organizers will guest co-edit of the journal Cityscape, published by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development slated to be published March 2016.

Electronic submissions should include:

  • Name, Title, Institution/Affiliation, Contact Information
  • Paper title
  • Abstract (350-500 words)
  • Preliminary bibliography
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