Where the Street Has No Name: Reflections on Legality and Spatiality of Vending


The street is a metaphor for the urban in India (Ahuja, 1997; Edenso1 1998). Understanding the urban is incomplete without understanding the street. The vendor is a ubiquitous presence. In Delhi, where hawkers and vendors ply, the street is a diverse geography of everyday uses. Street life – its bustle and complexity – is manoeuvred by the vendor in a jostle of negotiated interests. Space matters. Street width often determines decisions of street use. Such use is legitimised at street ‘level’ and in official fora as ‘high’ as the Supreme Court, with methods ‘strategic’ and ‘tactical 1 (De Certeau, 1984) which invoke normative claims. Specific understandings vary, depending on particular location and context.