Subverting the “Migrant Division of Labor” through the Traditional Retail Market: the London Latin Village’s Struggle against Gentrification
Retail gentrification describes the process by which the retail offer of a neighborhood is reconfigured to cater to a wealthier clientele than previously. This not only affects the ability of poorer urban residents to access essential goods and services but also has disruptive effects on existing communities. In this paper, we analyze the threat of gentrification and its impact on the experiences of migrant workers at the Latin Village, a Traditional Retail Market (TRM) in North London. We make two arguments based on a combination of qualitative research methods (interviews, participant observation, survey and document analysis). First, we find that the market offers a sense of belonging as well as economic opportunities to migrants, predominantly from Latin America, who face discrimination in many other parts of London’s stratified labor market. Second, we argue that regeneration of the Latin Village as originally envisaged would disproportionately affect this migrant community by threatening an important space of social and economic inclusion. The paper concludes by highlighting the importance of the workplace as a mediator of migrants' experiences of the city, which calls for further attention to instances of workspace displacement engendered by processes of retail gentrification and their consequences for marginalized communities.