Co-auteur
  • BONNET François (1)
  • TUITJER Leonie (1)
Type de Document
  • Article (2)
in City. Critical analysis of urban trends, culture, theory, policy, action Publié en 2019-04
TUITJER Leonie
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This paper brings together literature from urban and refugee studies, aiming to contribute new theoretical insights about agency in the space of an urban assemblage to the study of the mundane mobility of refugees in Bangkok, Thailand. Drawing on empirical material gathered through qualitative interviews and ethnographic methodologies, the paper offers new insights into the daily struggles of refugees in a city located in a country that is not a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention. In particular, the Deleuzo-Guattarian concept of becoming as a transformative capacity, as well as the notion of distributed agency, are highlighted to raise awareness to the ambivalent, complex and ambiguous ways in which agency is expressed by urban refugees in a non-Convention city. The paper aspires to offer both new theoretical perspectives as well as novel empirical data to consider the agency of refugees who are criminalised in their host country due to a lack of legal recognition, contending that these particular urban conditions are precisely the reason for their situated, contingent and ambivalent agency.

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The article focuses on the relationship between street vendors and local authorities in Bangkok. We examine the goals, the means, and the effects of everyday regulation of street vending. We document how the district administration produces and maintains informality by creating a parallel set of rules where street vendors enjoy negligible rents and little competition. We provide detailed empirical evidence on earnings, rents, fines, and rules regarding commercial real estate. The district administration's policy of “managed informality” results in a situation where more established informal vendors control less established ones. We hypothesize in the conclusion that the district administration's parallel legal system adjusts to the population's expectations in a political system where the law has little popular support.