Municipal Borderwork, Jurisdictional Games, and Racial Profiling: Barcelona's Fight Against Unauthorized Street Vending

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 08:45
Oral Presentation
David MOFFETTE, University of Ottawa, Canada
The governance of street vending is part of broader projects of urban governance which, in big cities, is often informed by dynamics that unfold at national, regional and global scales. For this reason, it is a particularly interesting object to inquire into the overlapping jurisdictions and scales, the displacement of borderwork, and the everyday practices of a multiplicity of actors involved in urban and immigration governance. In the summer of 2015, Barcelona’s municipal government came under fire from the opposition for what was seen as a lax response to street vending. Reacting to criticism, it started to promote a tough-on-street vending discourse, backed by a high-profile crackdown on immigrant street vendors. While selling products without the proper licensing is managed as a municipal bylaw violation, the issue is multilayered. Most vendors are recent immigrants from Senegal living in Spain in violation of the Alien Act, and many of them sell knock-off copies of luxury brand products, which is a criminal offence. In an attempt to rid the city of its street vendors, authorities used—among other actors—municipal police officers to repress bylaw violations, Autonomous Community police officers to criminally prosecute the selling of counterfeit goods, and National police officers to apply the Alien Act. Street vendors thus find themselves at a juncture where various legislative frameworks (municipal, immigration, and criminal laws) intersect to govern their presence in the city and in the country. The paper uses this case to analyze how various actors can engage in jurisdictional games and racial profiling to perform what amount to forms of municipal borderwork.