Login | Register

‘We have always been here’: Busking, urban space and economy of Montreal


‘We have always been here’: Busking, urban space and economy of Montreal

Chatterjee, Piyusha (2022) ‘We have always been here’: Busking, urban space and economy of Montreal. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

[thumbnail of Chatterjee_PhD_F2022.pdf]
Text (application/pdf)
Chatterjee_PhD_F2022.pdf - Accepted Version


This dissertation follows the buskers in Montreal to garner from them an understanding of the city’s economy, culture and urban space, and their entanglements. It is a historical and geographical study that examines the position of the itinerant entertainer or musician in the political economy of the city. Both history and place are explored from the vantage point of this
itinerant figure; and spaces frequented by buskers in the present or in the past are foregrounded in tracing urban transformations effecting the city since the 1960s.
An oral history project, it engages with memories of busking and formal and informal archives to address the lived experiences of buskers in the contemporary city; transformations in spaces of busking and their position with relation to the city’s economy; contestations over urban
public space; and the neoliberal entanglements of Montreal’s economy. Buskers' life histories are privileged in exploring concepts such as flexible, immaterial and precarious labour. The thesis, therefore, decenters the creative class in examining the entrepreneurial and self-regulated
worker and the nature of labour intermediaries within the neoliberal economy. It shines a light on the role of surveillance and politics of access that are deepening social divides in this new economy. It also compares the historical representation of street musicians and performers to their own perceptions of busking. In doing so, it not only challenges the distinctions between work and leisure, but also between economic and cultural or social domains.

The thesis foregrounds a temporal and spatial claim on the city by buskers. It is an argument for their place and practice in urban space and economy. Implicit is also a critique of urban planning and policies that are producing a sense of displacement among the economically
and socially marginalised. Experiences of surveillance and power, institutionalisation of culture, and professionalization of public art within the cultural economy make visible the exclusionary landscapes of the postindustrial city. Finally, in centering informality and informal spaces of
work and sociality through buskers, the thesis unsettles dominant narratives of Montreal to challenge a dichotomous framing of the world.

Divisions:Concordia University > Research Units > Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling
Concordia University > School of Graduate Studies > Individualized Program
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Chatterjee, Piyusha
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph. D.
Program:Individualized Program
Date:22 June 2022
Thesis Supervisor(s):High, Steven and Rantisi, Norma and Neves, Joshua
Keywords:busking, cultural economy, Montreal, urban space, oral history
ID Code:990955
Deposited On:27 Oct 2022 14:38
Last Modified:27 Oct 2022 14:38
All items in Spectrum are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved. The use of items is governed by Spectrum's terms of access.

Repository Staff Only: item control page

Downloads per month over past year

Research related to the current document (at the CORE website)
- Research related to the current document (at the CORE website)
Back to top Back to top