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Cheap StreetLondon's street markets and the cultures of informality, c. 1850-1939$
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Victoria Kelley

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780719099229

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.7765/9781526131706

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(p.74) 3 Streets
Cheap Street

Victoria Kelley

Manchester University Press

This chapter steps into the street markets to look at the impact of their legal and economic informality on their distinctive material culture and sensory affects. The chapter explores three themes in particular. Firstly, the notion of urban rhythms and their operation in space and time is analysed using Henri Lefebvre’s idea of rhythmanalysis to understand the transitory temporalities of the informal economy. Secondly the street markets’ distinctive lighting—by means of naphtha flares—is examined. The ‘flaring’ quality of the markets’ lights marked them as heterotopic urban spaces, in many ways ‘other’ to the respectable shopping streets of the West End. Finally, the chapter argues that the informal constitution and vivid sensory qualities of the street markets may be interpreted as a type of temporary, impermanent or ‘fragile’ architecture that further contrasted with the more solid and formal aspects of London’s retail infrastructures.

Keywords:   sensory history, space-time, rhythmanalysis, light, naphtha flares, temporary architecture, fragile architecture

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