Negotiating the streets, negotiating their lives: towards decolonial stories of migrant Mexicana street vendors in East Los Angeles

Activist Ethnography, Decolonial Feminism, Informal Economy, Women and Gender Studies

Committee members: Dionne Espinoza, Enrique C Ochoa, Beth Baker-Cristales

Street vendors are coded into a capitalist economic discourse, which almost ubiquitously identifies them as entrepreneurial or micro-entrepreneurial, making it difficult to uncover literature that frames vendors outside of an individualist, economic paradigm. Because much of the literature adopted an economic lens, the entrepreneurial language becomes common when discussing street vending. I find this problematic because street vendors are then coded with these labels without a critical consideration of how we may be interpellating street vendors into an individualist capitalist discourse when that may not necessarily be representative of the full scope of activities. I argue that framing vendors with this label can limit the analysis we undertake and solutions we pose when examining street vending, because we have accepted this prevailing narrative. I am proposing that street vending be examined from an intersectional, feminist and de-colonial lens in order to extract other readings of these activities.

Thesis (M.A.) California State University, Los Angeles, 2012