Picturing social inclusion: photography and identity in Downtown Eastside Vancouver

Robinson, Natalie (2012). Picturing social inclusion: photography and identity in Downtown Eastside Vancouver. University of Birmingham. M.Phil.


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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: Thesis (Masters by Research > M.Phil.)
Award Type: Masters by Research > M.Phil.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: Department of Languages, Cultures, Art History and Music.
Funders: Other
Other Funders: British Association for Canadian Studies, Foundation for Canadian Studies in the United Kingdom, The University of Birmingham
Subjects: F History United States, Canada, Latin America > F1001 Canada (General)
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
T Technology > TR Photography
URI: http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/id/eprint/3740


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