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Losing Maxwell Street? – Hannah Norwood BA thesis

LOSING MAXWELL STREET?  A Thesis Submitted to The Faculty of the College of the University of Chicago In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements For the Degree of Bachelor of Arts, Department of Anthropology by HANNAH NORWOOD. Chicago, Illinois, May, 2013

Maxwell Street Market might still exist by name in Chicago, but ask anyone involved with the market and they will tell you it is only a “fraction of a fraction,” a sliver, of what the old market was. Maxwell Street Market, Chicago’s largest open-air market, birthplace of the urban electric blues, and home to many of Chicago’s immigrants, has been completely transformed. On the corner where the former market once thrived now sit expensive condos and the basis for a University of Illinois in Chicago narrative of urban renewal and a neighborhood improved. Culturally, what was lost and what has remained of Maxwell Street Market, and what do these losses, persistances, and resistances mean to vendors and advocates of the old market? In an attempt to understand what was “lost” in UIC and the City of Chicago’s move and regulation of the Maxwell Street Market and what my informants mean when they call the former market “special” and “unique,” I will investigate broadly the sociality of the informal economic space of Maxwell Street and how it is tied to conceptions of public space. I will compare informant-based narratives of public space and who it should benefit to UIC and the City of Chicago’s understanding of “properly” used public space with which my informants contend. Finally, I will discuss the ways in which my informant’s nostalgia and memories of the market might constitute resistance… View Thesis as PDF