“Getting By” at the Urban Periphery: Everyday Struggles of Informal Merchants in Tunisia

Johannes Frische

Abstract


The article examines the significance of informal economic practices, e.g. street vending and informal commerce, for young merchants from Ettadhamen, a neighborhood situated in the northwestern periphery of the Greater Tunis area. It further addresses cross-border trade in the Tunisian-Libyan and Tunisian-Algerian border regions in which some of these merchants are indirectly involved. Peripheralization therefore does not imply complete socio-spatial exclusion. Peripheries rather offer important, albeit limited possibilities, to acquire resources through practices that are situated in the interstices between legality and illegality. As these possibilities often avoid state regulation and control, the article also addresses the ambivalent nature of the state-society relations that shapes everyday encounters between inhabitants and state agents, especially the police.


Keywords


Tunisia; Urban Periphery; State-Society Relations; Post-Revolutionary Transformation; Informal Commerce

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17192/meta.2015.5.3521

Johannes Frische studied Middle Eastern Studies, History and Religious Studies at the Universities of Leipzig (Germany), Santa Barbara (USA) and Damascus (Syria). In October 2011, he joined the graduate program Critical Junctures of Globalization at Leipzig University. His dissertation project examines informal economic practices of urban youth in Tunisia. His research interests focus on youth, transnational migration and informality.