International Development Planning Review

Negotiating the order: the politics and policing of street vending in Tehran

International Development Planning Review (2019), 41, (2), 173–192.

Abstract

The literature on street vending has been engaged with ‘ordinary spaces of negotiation’ as a heterogeneous, contradictory and performative realm of contestation over public space between street vendors and state bureaucracy. This article adopts Rancière’s conceptualisation of politics and police for examining this realm, bringing actors in addition to, and other than, city authorities and street vendors into the investigation. Drawing on a study in three commercial strips in Tehran, this article shows that whenever the state is involved in containing – and not removing – street vendors, the entangled relationships between shopkeepers, state functionaries and street vendors shaped new dynamic orders in sidewalks, whereby trading was allowed, albeit with forms and intensity tolerated by the state and the powerful. This new order in sidewalks transformed some vendors into the agents of policing and in turn created new marginalised groups, such as individual vendors with lower resources. The article argues that by moving beyond equating politics with everyday contestations of subaltern groups, Rancière’s perspective offers an analytical instrument for understanding how entangled interactions between different actors, inscribed by complex local histories and social norms, determine the ways of enacting – or not enacting – state policies, and mediate governing the city on a daily basis.

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References

Agadjanian, V. (2002a) ‘Competition and cooperation among working women in the context of structural adjustment: the case of street vendors in La Paz-El Alto, Bolivia’, Contributions to Asian Studies, 18(2–3), 259–85. Google Scholar

Agadjanian, V. (2002b) ‘Men doing “women’s work”: masculinity and gender relations among street vendors in Maputo, Mozambique’, The Journal of Men’s Studies, 10(3), 329–42. Google Scholar

Amankwaa, E. F. (2017) ‘Women and men at the traffic lights: the (re)configuration and (re)gendering of street water vending in Ghana’, GeoJournal, 82(2), 329–44. Google Scholar

Anjaria, J. S. (2011) ‘Ordinary states: everyday corruption and the politics of space in Mumbai’, American Ethnologist, 38(1), 58–72. Google Scholar

Baldino, D. and Goold, J. (2014) ‘Iran and the emergence of information and communications technology: the evolution of revolution?’, Australian Journal of International Affairs, 68(1), 17–35. Google Scholar

Batréau, Q. and Bonnet, F. (2016) ‘Managed informality: regulating street vendors in Bangkok’, City and Community, 15(1), 29–43. Google Scholar

Bayat, A. (1997a) Street politics: poor people’s movements in Iran, New York, Columbia University Press. Google Scholar

Bayat, A. (1997b) ‘Un-civil society: the politics of the “informal people”’, Third World Quarterly, 18(1), 53–72. Google Scholar

Bayat, A. (2000) ‘From dangerous classes to quiet rebels’ politics of the urban subaltern in the global South’, International Sociology, 15(3), 533–57. Google Scholar

Bayat, A. (2013) Life as politics: how ordinary people change the Middle East, Palo Alto, Stanford University Press. Google Scholar

BBC Persian (2016) ‘Beating a female vendor in Fooman: the municipality apologised’, 19 November 2016, www.bbc.com/persian/iran-38037043 (accessed 10 September 2017). Google Scholar

Bénit-Gbaffou, C. (2016) ‘Do street traders have the “right to the city”? The politics of street trader organisations in inner city Johannesburg, post-Operation Clean Sweep’, Third World Quarterly, 37(6), 1102–29. Google Scholar

Bénit-Gbaffou, C. and Oldfield, S. (2011) ‘Accessing the state: everyday practices and politics in cities of the South’, Journal of Asian and African Studies, 46(5), 445–52. Google Scholar

Benjamin, S. (2004) ‘Urban land transformation for pro-poor economies’, Geoforum, 35(2), 177–87. Google Scholar

Boonjubun, C. (2017) ‘Conflicts over streets: the eviction of Bangkok street vendors’, Cities, 70, 22–31. Google Scholar

Chiu, C. (2013) ‘Informal management, interactive performance: street vendors and police in a Taipei night market’, International Development Planning Review, 35(4), 335–52. Google Scholar

Crossa, V. (2009) ‘Resisting the entrepreneurial city: street vendors’ struggle in Mexico City’s historic center’, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 33(1), 43–63. Google Scholar

Crossa, V. (2013) ‘Play for protest, protest for play: artisan and vendors’ resistance to displacement in Mexico City’, Antipode, 45(4), 826–43. Google Scholar

Crossa, V. (2016) ‘Reading for difference on the street: de-homogenising street vending in Mexico City’, Urban Studies, 53(2), 287–301. Google Scholar

Das, V. (2007) Life and words: violence and the descent into the ordinary, Berkeley, University of California Press. Google Scholar

Das, V. and Poole, D. (2004) ‘Anthropology in the margins of the state’, PoLAR: Political and Legal Anthropology Review, 30(1), 140–44. Google Scholar

Dikeç, M. (2005) ‘Space, politics, and the political’, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 23(2), 171–88. Google Scholar

Dikeç, M. (2011) Badlands of the republic: space, politics and urban policy, Vol. 78, Malden, MA, Wiley-Blackwell. Google Scholar

Dikeç, M. (2012) ‘Space as a mode of political thinking’, Geoforum, 43(4), 669–76. Google Scholar

Ehsani, K. (2014) ‘The production and politics of public space radical democratic politics and public space’, International Journal of Middle East Studies, 46(1), 159–62. Google Scholar

Eidse, N., Turner, S. and Oswin, N. (2016) ‘Contesting street spaces in a socialist city: itinerant vending-scapes and the everyday politics of mobility in Hanoi, Vietnam’, Annals of the American Association of Geographers, 106(2), 340–49. Google Scholar

Entekhab (2014) ‘The explanations of Ghalibaf (Mayor of Tehran) about the death of a street vendor’, (in Farsi), 23 July 2014, http://www.entekhab.ir/fa/news/177094 (accessed 10 September 2017). Google Scholar

Fadaee, S. and Schindler, S. (2017) ‘Women hawkers in Tehran’s metro: everyday politics and the production of public space’, International Development Planning Review, 39(1), 57–75. Google Scholar

Fuller, C. J. and Harriss, J. (2000) ‘For an anthropology of the state in India’, in C. J. Fuller and V. Benei (eds) The everyday state and society in modern India, New Delhi, Social Science Press, 1–30. Google Scholar

Hackenbroch, K. and Hossain, S. (2012) ‘The organised encroachment of the powerful: everyday practices of public space and water supply in Dhaka, Bangladesh’, Planning Theory and Practice, 13(3), 397–420. Google Scholar

Hanser, A. (2016) ‘Street politics: street vendors and urban governance in China’, The China Quarterly, 226, 363–82. Google Scholar

Huang, G., Xue, D. and Li, Z. (2014) ‘From revanchism to ambivalence: the changing politics of street vending in Guangzhou’, Antipode, 46(1), 170–89. Google Scholar

IRNA (Islamic Republic News Agency) (2017) ‘Self-immolation of three people in the country due to the violence of municipal officials’, (in Farsi), 21 April 2017, http://www.irna.ir/fa/News/82510229, (accessed 10 November 2017). Google Scholar

ISNA (Iranian Students’ News Agency) (2013) ‘Narratives of metro vendors about the death of a young man’, (in Farsi), 21 January 2014, https://www.isna.ir/news/92110201722, (accessed 10 November 2017). Google Scholar

Iveson, K. (2014) ‘Policing the city’, in M. Davidson and D. Martin (eds) Urban politics: critical approaches, Los Angeles, Sage, 85–99. Google Scholar

Kamete, A. Y. (2010) ‘Defending illicit livelihoods: youth resistance in Harare’s contested spaces’, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 34(1), 55–75. Google Scholar

Khatam, A. and Haas, O. (2018) ‘Interrupting planetary urbanization: a view from Middle Eastern cities’, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 36(3), 439–55. Google Scholar

Kinyanjui, M. N. (2014) Women and the informal economy in urban Africa: from the margins to the centre, London, Zed Books. Google Scholar

Kudva, N. (2009) ‘The everyday and the episodic: the spatial and political impacts of urban informality’, Environment and planning A, 41(7), 1614–28. Google Scholar

Maneepong, C. and Walsh, J. C. (2013) ‘A new generation of Bangkok street vendors: economic crisis as opportunity and threat’, Cities, 34, 37–43. Google Scholar

Martínez, L., Short, J. R. and Estrada, D. (2018) ‘The diversity of the street vending: a case study of street vending in Cali’, Cities, 79, 18–25. Google Scholar

Milgram, B. L. (2013) ‘Taking the street into the market: the politics of space and work in Baguio City, Philippines’, in K. T. Hansen, W. E. Little and B. L. Milgram (eds) Street economies in the urban global South, Santa Fe, SAR Press, 71–92. Google Scholar

Milgram, B. L. (2014) ‘Remapping the edge: informality and legality in the Harrison road night market, Baguio City, Philippines’, City and Society, 26(2), 153–74. Google Scholar

Palacios, R. (2016) ‘The new identities of street vendors in Santiago, Chile’, Space and Culture, 19(4), 421–34. Google Scholar

Polese, A., Rekhviashvili, L. and Morris, J. (2016) ‘Informal governance in urban spaces: power, negotiation and resistance among Georgian street vendors’, Geography Research Forum, 36, 15–32. Google Scholar

Rancière, J. (1999) Disagreement: politics and philosophy, Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press. Google Scholar

Rancière, J. (2004) ‘Introducing disagreement’, Angelaki, 9(3), 3–9. Google Scholar

Rancière, J. (2009) ‘The method of equality: an answer to some questions’, in G. Rockhill and P. Watts (eds) Jacques Rancière: history,politics, aesthetics, Durham, NC, Duke University Press, 273–88. Google Scholar

Roever, S. and Skinner, C. (2016) ‘Street vendors and cities’, Environment and Urbanization, 28(2), 359–74. Google Scholar

Rouhani, F. (2003) ‘“Islamic yuppies”? State rescaling, citizenship, and public opinion formation in Tehran, Iran’, Urban Geography, 24(2), 169–82. Google Scholar

Roy, A. (2011) ‘Slumdog cities: rethinking subaltern urbanism’, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 35(2), 223–38. Google Scholar

Rubin, M. (2011) ‘Perceptions of corruption in the South African housing allocation and delivery programme: what it may mean for accessing the state’, Journal of Asian and African Studies, 46(5), 479–90. Google Scholar

Saghafi, M. (2015) Stationary street vendors in Tehran: research and recommendations, (in Farsi), Tehran, Ministry of Cooperatives Labour and Social Welfare. Google Scholar

Schindler, S. (2014) ‘Producing and contesting the formal/informal divide: regulating street hawking in Delhi, India’, Urban Studies, 51(12), 2596–612. Google Scholar

Swanson, K. (2007) ‘Revanchist urbanism heads south: the regulation of indigenous beggars and street vendors in Ecuador’, Antipode, 39(4), 708–28. Google Scholar

Swyngedouw, E. (2009) ‘The antinomies of the postpolitical city: in search of a democratic politics of environmental production’, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 33(3), 601–20. Google Scholar

Turner, S. and Schoenberger, L. (2012) ‘Street vendor livelihoods and everyday politics in Hanoi, Vietnam: the seeds of a diverse economy?’, Urban Studies, 49(5), 1027–44. Google Scholar

Agadjanian, V. (2002a) ‘Competition and cooperation among working women in the context of structural adjustment: the case of street vendors in La Paz-El Alto, Bolivia’, Contributions to Asian Studies, 18(2–3), 259–85. Google Scholar

Agadjanian, V. (2002b) ‘Men doing “women’s work”: masculinity and gender relations among street vendors in Maputo, Mozambique’, The Journal of Men’s Studies, 10(3), 329–42. Google Scholar

Amankwaa, E. F. (2017) ‘Women and men at the traffic lights: the (re)configuration and (re)gendering of street water vending in Ghana’, GeoJournal, 82(2), 329–44. Google Scholar

Anjaria, J. S. (2011) ‘Ordinary states: everyday corruption and the politics of space in Mumbai’, American Ethnologist, 38(1), 58–72. Google Scholar

Baldino, D. and Goold, J. (2014) ‘Iran and the emergence of information and communications technology: the evolution of revolution?’, Australian Journal of International Affairs, 68(1), 17–35. Google Scholar

Batréau, Q. and Bonnet, F. (2016) ‘Managed informality: regulating street vendors in Bangkok’, City and Community, 15(1), 29–43. Google Scholar

Bayat, A. (1997a) Street politics: poor people’s movements in Iran, New York, Columbia University Press. Google Scholar

Bayat, A. (1997b) ‘Un-civil society: the politics of the “informal people”’, Third World Quarterly, 18(1), 53–72. Google Scholar

Bayat, A. (2000) ‘From dangerous classes to quiet rebels’ politics of the urban subaltern in the global South’, International Sociology, 15(3), 533–57. Google Scholar

Bayat, A. (2013) Life as politics: how ordinary people change the Middle East, Palo Alto, Stanford University Press. Google Scholar

BBC Persian (2016) ‘Beating a female vendor in Fooman: the municipality apologised’, 19 November 2016, www.bbc.com/persian/iran-38037043 (accessed 10 September 2017). Google Scholar

Bénit-Gbaffou, C. (2016) ‘Do street traders have the “right to the city”? The politics of street trader organisations in inner city Johannesburg, post-Operation Clean Sweep’, Third World Quarterly, 37(6), 1102–29. Google Scholar

Bénit-Gbaffou, C. and Oldfield, S. (2011) ‘Accessing the state: everyday practices and politics in cities of the South’, Journal of Asian and African Studies, 46(5), 445–52. Google Scholar

Benjamin, S. (2004) ‘Urban land transformation for pro-poor economies’, Geoforum, 35(2), 177–87. Google Scholar

Boonjubun, C. (2017) ‘Conflicts over streets: the eviction of Bangkok street vendors’, Cities, 70, 22–31. Google Scholar

Chiu, C. (2013) ‘Informal management, interactive performance: street vendors and police in a Taipei night market’, International Development Planning Review, 35(4), 335–52. Google Scholar

Crossa, V. (2009) ‘Resisting the entrepreneurial city: street vendors’ struggle in Mexico City’s historic center’, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 33(1), 43–63. Google Scholar

Crossa, V. (2013) ‘Play for protest, protest for play: artisan and vendors’ resistance to displacement in Mexico City’, Antipode, 45(4), 826–43. Google Scholar

Crossa, V. (2016) ‘Reading for difference on the street: de-homogenising street vending in Mexico City’, Urban Studies, 53(2), 287–301. Google Scholar

Das, V. (2007) Life and words: violence and the descent into the ordinary, Berkeley, University of California Press. Google Scholar

Das, V. and Poole, D. (2004) ‘Anthropology in the margins of the state’, PoLAR: Political and Legal Anthropology Review, 30(1), 140–44. Google Scholar

Dikeç, M. (2005) ‘Space, politics, and the political’, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 23(2), 171–88. Google Scholar

Dikeç, M. (2011) Badlands of the republic: space, politics and urban policy, Vol. 78, Malden, MA, Wiley-Blackwell. Google Scholar

Dikeç, M. (2012) ‘Space as a mode of political thinking’, Geoforum, 43(4), 669–76. Google Scholar

Ehsani, K. (2014) ‘The production and politics of public space radical democratic politics and public space’, International Journal of Middle East Studies, 46(1), 159–62. Google Scholar

Eidse, N., Turner, S. and Oswin, N. (2016) ‘Contesting street spaces in a socialist city: itinerant vending-scapes and the everyday politics of mobility in Hanoi, Vietnam’, Annals of the American Association of Geographers, 106(2), 340–49. Google Scholar

Entekhab (2014) ‘The explanations of Ghalibaf (Mayor of Tehran) about the death of a street vendor’, (in Farsi), 23 July 2014, http://www.entekhab.ir/fa/news/177094 (accessed 10 September 2017). Google Scholar

Fadaee, S. and Schindler, S. (2017) ‘Women hawkers in Tehran’s metro: everyday politics and the production of public space’, International Development Planning Review, 39(1), 57–75. Google Scholar

Fuller, C. J. and Harriss, J. (2000) ‘For an anthropology of the state in India’, in C. J. Fuller and V. Benei (eds) The everyday state and society in modern India, New Delhi, Social Science Press, 1–30. Google Scholar

Hackenbroch, K. and Hossain, S. (2012) ‘The organised encroachment of the powerful: everyday practices of public space and water supply in Dhaka, Bangladesh’, Planning Theory and Practice, 13(3), 397–420. Google Scholar

Hanser, A. (2016) ‘Street politics: street vendors and urban governance in China’, The China Quarterly, 226, 363–82. Google Scholar

Huang, G., Xue, D. and Li, Z. (2014) ‘From revanchism to ambivalence: the changing politics of street vending in Guangzhou’, Antipode, 46(1), 170–89. Google Scholar

IRNA (Islamic Republic News Agency) (2017) ‘Self-immolation of three people in the country due to the violence of municipal officials’, (in Farsi), 21 April 2017, http://www.irna.ir/fa/News/82510229, (accessed 10 November 2017). Google Scholar

ISNA (Iranian Students’ News Agency) (2013) ‘Narratives of metro vendors about the death of a young man’, (in Farsi), 21 January 2014, https://www.isna.ir/news/92110201722, (accessed 10 November 2017). Google Scholar

Iveson, K. (2014) ‘Policing the city’, in M. Davidson and D. Martin (eds) Urban politics: critical approaches, Los Angeles, Sage, 85–99. Google Scholar

Kamete, A. Y. (2010) ‘Defending illicit livelihoods: youth resistance in Harare’s contested spaces’, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 34(1), 55–75. Google Scholar

Khatam, A. and Haas, O. (2018) ‘Interrupting planetary urbanization: a view from Middle Eastern cities’, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 36(3), 439–55. Google Scholar

Kinyanjui, M. N. (2014) Women and the informal economy in urban Africa: from the margins to the centre, London, Zed Books. Google Scholar

Kudva, N. (2009) ‘The everyday and the episodic: the spatial and political impacts of urban informality’, Environment and planning A, 41(7), 1614–28. Google Scholar

Maneepong, C. and Walsh, J. C. (2013) ‘A new generation of Bangkok street vendors: economic crisis as opportunity and threat’, Cities, 34, 37–43. Google Scholar

Martínez, L., Short, J. R. and Estrada, D. (2018) ‘The diversity of the street vending: a case study of street vending in Cali’, Cities, 79, 18–25. Google Scholar

Milgram, B. L. (2013) ‘Taking the street into the market: the politics of space and work in Baguio City, Philippines’, in K. T. Hansen, W. E. Little and B. L. Milgram (eds) Street economies in the urban global South, Santa Fe, SAR Press, 71–92. Google Scholar

Milgram, B. L. (2014) ‘Remapping the edge: informality and legality in the Harrison road night market, Baguio City, Philippines’, City and Society, 26(2), 153–74. Google Scholar

Palacios, R. (2016) ‘The new identities of street vendors in Santiago, Chile’, Space and Culture, 19(4), 421–34. Google Scholar

Polese, A., Rekhviashvili, L. and Morris, J. (2016) ‘Informal governance in urban spaces: power, negotiation and resistance among Georgian street vendors’, Geography Research Forum, 36, 15–32. Google Scholar

Rancière, J. (1999) Disagreement: politics and philosophy, Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press. Google Scholar

Rancière, J. (2004) ‘Introducing disagreement’, Angelaki, 9(3), 3–9. Google Scholar

Rancière, J. (2009) ‘The method of equality: an answer to some questions’, in G. Rockhill and P. Watts (eds) Jacques Rancière: history,politics, aesthetics, Durham, NC, Duke University Press, 273–88. Google Scholar

Roever, S. and Skinner, C. (2016) ‘Street vendors and cities’, Environment and Urbanization, 28(2), 359–74. Google Scholar

Rouhani, F. (2003) ‘“Islamic yuppies”? State rescaling, citizenship, and public opinion formation in Tehran, Iran’, Urban Geography, 24(2), 169–82. Google Scholar

Roy, A. (2011) ‘Slumdog cities: rethinking subaltern urbanism’, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 35(2), 223–38. Google Scholar

Rubin, M. (2011) ‘Perceptions of corruption in the South African housing allocation and delivery programme: what it may mean for accessing the state’, Journal of Asian and African Studies, 46(5), 479–90. Google Scholar

Saghafi, M. (2015) Stationary street vendors in Tehran: research and recommendations, (in Farsi), Tehran, Ministry of Cooperatives Labour and Social Welfare. Google Scholar

Schindler, S. (2014) ‘Producing and contesting the formal/informal divide: regulating street hawking in Delhi, India’, Urban Studies, 51(12), 2596–612. Google Scholar

Swanson, K. (2007) ‘Revanchist urbanism heads south: the regulation of indigenous beggars and street vendors in Ecuador’, Antipode, 39(4), 708–28. Google Scholar

Swyngedouw, E. (2009) ‘The antinomies of the postpolitical city: in search of a democratic politics of environmental production’, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 33(3), 601–20. Google Scholar

Turner, S. and Schoenberger, L. (2012) ‘Street vendor livelihoods and everyday politics in Hanoi, Vietnam: the seeds of a diverse economy?’, Urban Studies, 49(5), 1027–44. Google Scholar

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Tafti, Mojgan Taheri