Displacement and the new spaces for informal trade in the Latin American city centre

Bromley, R. D., & Mackie, P. K.

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Bromley, R. D., & Mackie, P. K. (2009). Displacement and the new spaces for informal trade in the Latin American city centre. Urban studies, 46(7), 1485–1506.

Using evidence from Cusco, Peru, the paper examines the effects of the planned displacement of informal traders from city-centre streets. Although more than 3500 traders were relocated to new off-centre markets, the research identifies the emergence of 'unplanned' alternative city-centre locations for informal trade, especially the new courtyard markets. The municipal-led changes, influenced strongly by concerns to enhance tourism, reveal a process which displays many of the hallmarks of gentrification. Lower-class traders were displaced from city-centre streets for the benefit of middle-class tourists and local people. There was also gentrification of the trading activity itself: by manipulating stall allocation and pricing structures to exclude the poorest traders from the new higher-quality municipal markets. The changing pattern of informal trading can be viewed as an unconventional 'barometer' of the progress of policy-led gentrification, applicable to other cities in the developing world.

Main finding
The authors find that new trade policy displaced approximately 6,200 informal traders from the streets in the central city. However, traders adapted to their exclusion from public space by occupying private courtyard spaces in central areas. The authors also find that new markets, opened to house relocated traders, struggled to retain business, due to high stall prices, decentralized locations, and competition from surviving informal trade locations. The authors argue that informal trade displacement was integral to state-led gentrification intended to promote tourism.

Description of method used in the article
The authors conducted observations and interviews (n = 31) including planners, market administrators, traders, trade union leaders, and consumers in 2002, 2004, and 2005. They also conducted content analysis of local newspapers from 1997-2007.

Of some practical use if combined with other research

Organising categories

Economic Transactions
Content analysis Field Observations Interviews
Physical types
Geographic locations