22 Apr 2010 - 23 Apr 2010 All day CRASSH, 17 Mill Lane, Cambridge


Registration for this conference is now closed.


Melissa Calaresu (History, University of Cambridge)
Danielle van den Heuvel (Economics, University of Cambridge)

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Conference summary

Street vendors can be found anywhere in the world, in urban and in rural locations, and are part of almost any distribution chain, although often at the lower end of the spectrum.  They link urban and rural economies through movement of traders and of commodities; they serve a highly varied clientele and play an important role in the marketing of consumer goods to poorer customers. Scholars from a variety of disciplines are currently studying the practices of street selling and its implications for society. The conference brings these scholars together and will explore the history, economics, anthropology, and representation of the selling of food on streets and at markets. The food trades provide an excellent case to study the dynamics of street selling and its impact on society as a whole. Food is an essential basic commodity and food vendors are ubiquitous across time and space. The focus on food therefore creates possibilities for comparison in historical and contemporary contexts. It brings out a variety of different questions in relation to the role of the authorities and to economic and cultural development. The time span of the conference covers approximately two millennia, from antiquity to the present, and we include papers in history and in the developing world. Some of the themes which will be explored in this conference are: the identity of the food sellers (in terms of gender, ethnicity, and social status); the role of the street seller in the distribution of food (types of clientele, products, introducing new products to larger and different groups); the marketing of food (what products are being sold and in what ways); food traders and the establishment (the informal sector, regulation, and tensions between shopkeepers and street vendors); the representation of food hawkers (in visual and literary sources); and street traders and economic development (business opportunities vs. escaping poverty).  The principal aim of the workshop is to generate debate and discussion across geography, and chronology, and we hope that the format of the workshop will encourage as much discussion as possible across disciplines.

Information for delegates

Registration for this conference is now closed.

Conference participants can find information about accommodation in Cambridge at the following URLs:
NB. CRASSH is not able to help with the booking of accommodation.

Conference sponsors

The conference organisers are grateful for the generous support provided by CRASSH, the Economic History Society, and the Trevelyan Fund of the Faculty of History, University of Cambridge

       The Trevelyan Fund


Tel: +44 1223 766886
Email enquiries@crassh.cam.ac.uk