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Latino/a Mobility in California History

Genevieve Carpio, Javier Cienfuegos, Ivonne Gonzalez, Karen Lazcano, Katherine Lee Berry, Joshua Mandell, Christofer Rodelo, Alfonso Toro, Authors

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Sources and Methodology

I crafted my research around the topic of history and activism tied in to mobility in street vendors in Los Angeles. To be able to provide an analysis of activism as a form of mobility for vendors within the city landscape and systems tied in to the city, I needed to understand the history of vending in the Los Angeles area. I then needed to connect the foundation of activism as told through historical perspective to a more modern time in Los Angeles, which led me to the Asociación de Vendedores Ambulantes (AVA) and the hashtag #LAStreetVendors. My aim in curating my project was to understand mobility not only through the theme of street vendors, but also through its transformation into accessible activism. The AVA #LAStreetVendors connected a history of a community set in historical Los Angeles and still remains today. Street vending activism has provided an intersectional medium of mobility for the community of vendors and within the methods that it utilizes.

Phoebe Kropps’s Citizens of the Past?: Olvera Street and the Construction of Race and Memory in 1930’s Los Angeles served as my base for understanding the history behind Olvera Street and the early beginnings of street vending and street vending activism. Her account allowed me to understand motivations for vendors coming together. Through her research, I was able to make connections between the forms of activism that vendors engaged in 1930’s Los Angeles and how they have transformed to the present. For me, it was vital to discern the foundation of street vending in the Los Angeles landscape to be able to formulate my own conclusions in tying it in with modern mediums of activism and mobility.

Through my research, I wanted to provide a diverse account of street vending and mobility. The archives in the Southern California Library provided information and visual materials on the AVA that I was able to utilize in my final exhibit. Lorena Muñoz’s Latino/a Immigrant Street Vendors in Los Angeles: Photo-Documenting Sidewalks from 'Back-Home' also contributed photographic elements that I used in my exhibit. The Internet Public Archive was also essential in providing visual sources for the conclusions I wanted to make through this project. These sources all guided me to make conclusions on mobility, street vending, and activism. In fact, they led me to the idea of using a hashtag as evidentiary support for how much street activism has mobilized through the years. The hashtag #LAStreetVendors demonstrates the way through which activism of street vendors has transformed from a physical medium into an electronic format. Nevertheless, the authenticity of the movement remains, reconstructing the contributions of street vendors in the Los Angeles landscape to be inclusive with activism and community.

My research covered only a fraction of the vibrant and expansive community that exists through street vending. Future research on street vending should aim to be inclusive to different narratives involved in the craft. My research was limited due to available resources including a lack of academia on vendors and vendor activism. This was in part both useful and detrimental because it allowed me to form my own conclusions on the mobility of street vending, but did not allow for a venue for scholarly comparison.

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