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Identities in flux: the interplay of representations and identities amidst the informal commerce in São Paulo

Grant number: 14/13285-6
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Post-Doctorate
Effective date (Start): June 01, 2015
Effective date (End): May 24, 2018
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Sociology - Other specific Sociologies
Cooperation agreement: Coordination of Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES)
Principal Investigator:Nadya Araujo Guimarães
Grantee:André Vereta Nahoum
Home Institution: Centro Brasileiro de Análise e Planejamento (CEBRAP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil

Abstract

This project proposes a study about the Feira da Madrugada, a marketplace for ordinary objects in the centre of São Paulo with significant sociocultural diversity, and a fragment of a global circuit of goods and persons. This study is animated by a problem that remains overlooked by the social studies about markets: what are the reciprocal relations between the constitution of markets and identity projects. As a hypothesis, I hold that such relations are mediated by the disputes and negotiations about the categories that are employed to qualify market transactions, goods and their agents. Amidst these negotiations, actors may recreate their own qualifications and work on their identities. I believe that transactions involving goods and money synthesise a set of - material, cultural, political, and social - relations that structure, animate and signify them according to non-purely material projects, including redefinitions of identity. The research aims at (i) re-constructing the network of actors, representations and devices underlying exchange in this space, (ii) following negotiations through which agents attempt to bestow certain qualifications upon the space, activities, goods and themselves, (iii) as well as the trajectories of those who are entrepreneurs in this space: traders and travelling salespersons. In order to do so, I map the representations and devices circulating around the space and the set of relations and interactions of these agents, mobilizing a number of methods: document and bibliographical research, interviews with actors that produce and negotiate devices and representations about the Feira, as well as with selected actors about their life trajectories and, at last, a participant observation of the dynamics, paths and negotiations of the actors. (AU)