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Picturing social inclusion: photography and identity in Downtown Eastside Vancouver

Robinson, Natalie (2012)
M.Phil. thesis, University of Birmingham.

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This thesis offers an exploration of the relationship between photography and identity in the marginalised urban space. I focus specifically on the annual Hope in Shadows photography contest in Downtown Eastside Vancouver (DTES) and through field-based focus groups, engage with individuals in the DTES community to develop a deeper understanding of what resident-led photography means to them. I position urban photography as revealing “the entanglements of the individual and the city” (Lancione, 2011) and demonstrate how photographing and viewing photographs of the neighbourhood allows participants to articulate important links between space, place, self and community. Drawing on existing literature in visual sociology, my study explores the potential of resident-led photography in emancipating participant lifeworlds from their excluded status, opening up multiple avenues to social action. I argue for the potential of the camera in person-centred research: promoting a recognition of C.Wright Mills’ (1959) “personal troubles” as “public issues”, encouraging dialogical understandings between urban in-groups and out-groups, and enabling the (re)assertion of affirmative social presence for excluded communities. Focussing on the Hope in Shadows contest as case-study, I explore how community photography can create opportunities for identity representation, (re)creation and recognition, and promote social inclusion in the city.

Type of Work:M.Phil. thesis.
Supervisor(s):Fuller , Daniellle
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
Department:Department of Languages, Cultures, Art History and Music.
Keywords:Visual Sociology, Photography, Identity, Social Inclusion, Downtown Eastside Vancouver.
Subjects:F1001 Canada (General)
HM Sociology
TR Photography
Institution:University of Birmingham
ID Code:3740
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
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