Year of Publication

2013

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

College

Arts and Sciences

Department

Geography

First Advisor

Dr. Anna Secor

Abstract

This dissertation looks into the processes by which neoliberalism is mutating with various local and global discourses in order to transform urban space for marginalized street hawkers in the Global South, specifically Delhi, India. Following the current engagements in geographic literature on neoliberalism that focus on the contextually embedded character and the path-dependent process of the spread of free market ideas, I make free market advocacy think tanks--a rather unknown and under-investigated accomplice to this process--my main entry point. Corporate funded think tanks are often found advocating a neoliberal doctrine of free markets, minimal government intervention, and privatization. A self-professed civil society organization, the Center for Civil Society (CCS) in Delhi is one of the first neoliberal, national and foreign corporation funded, advocacy think tanks in India and one of its many agendas is to counter the popular belief that neoliberalism is harmful for the urban poor such as street hawkers.

Various NGOs, social workers, scholars, academicians, and think tanks including CCS came together to form the National Policy of Street Vendors, 2009 (NPSV), one of the first policy proposals in modern India to tackle the problems of urban spaces of street vending. Through my investigations I wish to highlight the neoliberal attitudes that are concealed in this policy regarding street hawkers. By bringing these neoliberal undertones to the forefront, this dissertation discusses how this so called “pro-hawking” policy that is being pushed to be implemented in the majority of Indian cities is in fact hostile to hawkers. I demonstrate this fact by explaining that NPSV and its proponents view space as a capitalist commodity and are attempting to transform the rich social spaces of Indian city streets into hollow container spaces of capitalist production and consumption. In this way, this dissertation connects macro spaces of governance such as city streets to the micro spaces of governmentality such as think tanks like CCS.

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