The performativity of urban citizenship

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In this analysis I examine how Dominican grocery-store owners (bodegueros) in Philadelphia gain the ability to operate corner stores in predominantly African American and Puerto Rican neighborhoods where they are often considered to be outsiders. A central element of the survival strategy of the grocers is to bend over backwards in order to serve their clients and 'perform' to the expectations of community residents. These actions disrupt discrete notions of community 'outsider' and 'insider' and suggest that urban citizenship is not a static positionality based solely on contest- ations with the state but, rather, an identity created by the interactions between the heterogenous elements of the modern city. I use the experience of the grocers to argue that our understanding of insurgent forms of citizenship must be attuned to this fluid definition of citizenship-one in which the relationships between different members of the polity is crucial.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1103-1120
Number of pages18
JournalEnvironment and Planning A
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jun 18 2010

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