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The struggle for Via Bologna street market: crisis, racial denial and speaking back to power in Naples Italy

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)377-394
JournalBritish Journal of Sociology
Volume70
Issue number1
Early online date10 Jan 2018
DOIs
Accepted/In press1 Dec 2017
E-pub ahead of print10 Jan 2018
PublishedJan 2019

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Abstract

This paper is based on ethnographic research conducted with migrant and Italian street vendors in Naples, southern Italy, in 2012. It tells the story of Via Bologna market which was nearly closed down by the City Hall at the time. Naples is a city where issues of poverty and unemployment pre‐date and have been exacerbated by manifold narratives of crisis now unfolding across Europe regarding the economy, political legitimacy, security and migration. Street markets have always been an important and visible economic survival strategy for both Neapolitans and migrants there. This article shows how the Via Bologna street vendors appropriated and adapted discourses about crisis to form their own cosmopolitan social movement that halted the closure of the market. It argues that, in the age of globalized migration, the multilingual nature of such collective action is central to understanding social struggles that must be organized between marginalized groups of people divided by race, religion, politics and legal status. This, frequently ambiguous, transcultural solidarity speaks back against a mainstream post‐racial discourse – often articulated by the Neapolitan street vendors at the market – that would reduce the complexity of such collective action to questions of poverty and class struggle.

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