Play for Protest, Protest for Play: Artisan and Vendors' Resistance to Displacement in Mexico City

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Abstract

Play, laughter and theatrical forms of activism have been recently documented by scholars interested in the politics and spatiality of resistance. This article focuses on the playful techniques of resistance deployed by street vendors and artisans in Mexico City as a result of the displacement generated by a recently implemented policy popularly called Plazas Limpias (clean plazas). Through a case study Coyoacan, a tourist-oriented neighbourhood known for its historical richness and aesthetic qualities, I show how street vendors and artisans who were removed from plazas in the area engaged in a number of playful resistance strategies which drew on the symbolic and material importance of place. I argue the street vendors and artisans deployed playful techniques of resistance for two reasons. First, play helped develop emotions that were crucial for the sustainability of the movement. Second, playful strategies of resistance were practiced because of the symbolic importance of Coyoacan as a place of creativity, play, performance, and art.

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