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TU Berlin

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Noa Ha


Center for Metropolitan Studies (CMS)
TU Berlin
Ernst-Reuter-Platz 7, TEL 3-0
10587 Berlin


"Itinerancy and Alterity. Informal Economy and Livelihood of Immigrants in Public Spaces – A Case Study on Street Vending in Berlin and New York"

Starting point of my research is street vending in Berlin. There are entrepreneurs of Turkish provenience selling souvenirs at Friedrichstrasse, jewelry vendors from Latin America at Alexanderplatz  and many other micro scale entrepreneurs who sell snacks, newspapers and other goods. While moving daily around and working on urban streets and places, they are trying to secure their economic survival. Altogether they form a marginal economy, whose subjects are immigrants coming very often from the periphery of a globalised world.

Such scenes of everyday life depict glocalised spaces of social-cultural encounter and display the density of globalisation in Western metropolises. Furthermore these scenes refer to the problematic relationship between the use of urban space, work, migration, illegalisation and precarity. Against this background my research examines on an empirical level the function of street vending in Berlin and its relationship to the ethnicization of informal economies and urban spaces, and their meaning for local urban development policies. To contextualize the status of urban street vending in Western industrialised countries New York will be drawn in comparison.
Itinerant street vending is often characterised by its regular, but as well spontaneous use of urban space, which is an essential part of the urban and not embodied by planning and architecture. Street vending as a marginal(ised) practice to  appropriate public space is characterised by informality which involves chances and risks. Informal economies gain in importance in Western metropolises, due to the process of globalisation and post-fordist transformation of labour, and will therefore raise important questions on the social, cultural and spatial level.

Answers will be developed within this project alongside of three aspects of examination:

1. the first one deals with local institutions and their regulatory practices and policies regarding the use of public space and their impact on street vending

2. the second aspect explores the precarious working conditions of the street entrepreneurs  from their own perspective

3. the third aspect explores forms and practices of spatial use and spatial appropriation of street vending

By addressing these questions valuable indications will be provided to answer the question how public space is transformed through informal use and to what extent the city is a place of social integration.  Public space adopts new meanings, when the limitations of urban membership to the local solidarity association is negotiated by processes of immigration. Therefore, the analysis of street vending raises the question whether public space can be made useful to secure the livelihood of immigrants and urban poor. The project aims to identify potentials of urban informal economies for the future of the post-fordistic metropolis and discusses possibilities of integration and participation of street vendors in local urban development processes.

Curriculum Vitae


Since May 2008
Associate fellow at the Transatlantic Graduate Research Program

2005 – 2009
Research Assistant, BMBF-Megacities Project:  „Urban Agriculture as an Integrative Factor of Urban Development, Casablanca, Morocco“, Technical University Berlin, Prof. Undine Giseke

Diploma in Landscape Architecture, Thesis “Street Vending – Urban Production of Space between Disturbance and Attraction”, Technical University of Berlin

2002 – 2004
Student assistant at the Department of Landscape Architectural and Open Space Planning, Technical University of Berlin

Internship at PPLH Bali - Pusat Pendidikan Lingkungan Hidup, Environmental Education Center, Bali, Indonesia

1998 – 2000
Landscape Architecture Offices: Bode, Williams & Partner (Berlin); Landschaft Planen & Bauen (Berlin)

Studies in Landscape Planning and Landscape Architecture, Technical University Berlin

1995 – 1998
Apprenticeship Landscape Gardener


informal economies, postcolonial urban studies, transnational migration, perspectives of People of Color, sustainable urban development policies,


Since June 2008
Ph.D Fellowship, Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung

2001 – 2004
Study Fellowship, Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung

Sept. 2003
Sur-Place-Conference of the Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung, Mexico-City

Research travel grant, DAAD

Publications, Lectures etc.


"Conceptualizing Metropolitan Informality: Street Vending in Berlin", Georg Simmel Think & Drink Kolloquium, Georg-Simmel-Zentrum für Metropolenforschung, HU Berlin, 28.06.2010

"Becoming the German Capital. Regulatory shifts towards the use of
public space: Street Vending in Berlin" CUNY SummerSchool at the HU Berlin.

"Setting Up Business - Setting Up a Stake: Urban street vending and the
promotion of inclusive public space", City&Migration Seminar 2010,
CMS/Finland Institute, Berlin.

"Street Vending in Berlin", Excursion „The Urban Informal in Berlin"
„Megacities-Megachallenge - Informal Dynamics of Global Change " -
Annual Colloquium 2010, Berlin. link

"Handel(n) und Wandel(n). Informelle Ökonomie und migrantische
Existenzsicherung im öffentlichen Raum am Beispiel des mobilen
Straßenhandels in Berlin und New York", Dokorandenkolloquium des FG's
habitat unit, Prof. Dr. Peter Herrle, 22.Februar 2010

"Handel(n) und Wandel(n). Informelle Ökonomie und migrantische
Existenzsicherung im öffentlichen Raum am Beispiel des mobilen
Straßenhandels in Berlin und New York", Stadt Labor, HU Berlin,
Europäische Ehtnologie, 16. Februar 2010

"Over-regulated and Marginalised: Street Vending in Berlin as
Metropolitan Informal Economy", Workshop on Urban Street Vending, CMS
Berlin, 16. Mai 2009

"Informelle Urbanisierung in den Megacities - Herausforderungen aus
freiraumplanerischer Perspektive", im Veranstaltungszyklus für den
Bachelor-Studienganges „Landschaftsplanung und Landschaftsarchitektur":
"Tendenzen und Herausforderungen im Stadtwachstum - Aktuelle
Aufgabenfelder der Freiraumplanung", TU Berlin.

"A geography of informality: The ambivalence of Informality within the
production of space and urban/spatial planning", Urban Agriculture in
the Megacity Casablanca, 7. Workshop des Forschungsprojektes, 30.-31.
Maerz 2009. (www.uac-m.org), Université Casablanca Ain Chock.

"Street Vending: The informalised Lumpenproletariat in the neoliberal
city", Lumpen-City: Discourses of Marginality, Marginalizing Discourses,
York University, Toronto. link

"Public Space as Space of Labor, Street Vending in the Postfordist
City", 4th Annual Conference New York 2008: „In Search of the
Postfordist City: Concepts and the Meaning of Urban Space and Society,
Fordham University. New York.

"Ambulanter Strassenhandel in Berlin: Urbane Raumproduktion zwischen Störung und Attraktion", Forschungskolloquium der Abteilung Politik, JFK Institut FU Berlin. Berlin, 09.11.2004

"Scapes - Das landschaftswahrnehmende Subjekt. Eine 'Bedienungsanleitung' ", 23.01.04, Reading Weekend with Doreen Massey

"Grenzlandgänge in Planung und Analyse – Gedanken zum Text "Analytic Borderland" von Saskia Sassen". 29. Kongress von Frauen in Naturwissenschaft und Technik - FiNuT, 30.05.2003


International Workshop at the CMS Berlin: "Urban Street Vending: Economic Resistance, Integration or Marginalization?", 15. & 16. Mai 2009. link

Colloque International "Développement urbaine durable et agriculture urbaine", Casablanca 11./12.09.2006: Université Ain Chock Casablanca, Institut National de l'Amènagement et de l'Urbanisme, Institut Agronomique et Vétérinaire Rabat, Technische Universität Berlin, HafenCityUniversität Hamburg, Universität Hohenheim


Ha, Noa: "Informeller Straßenhandel in Berlin. Urbane Raumproduktion
zwischen Störung und Attraktion" (wvb), (2009)

Giseke, Undine / Ha, Noa: Casablanca: Urban Agriculture as a Strategy for Sustainable Development in the Megacity of Tomorrow; in TRIALOG 92 01/2007

Zusatzinformationen / Extras

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