Affective Properties: Representing everyday environmental care labor

Authors: Ursula Lang*, Rhode Island School of Design
Topics: Social Theory, Qualitative Methods, Urban Geography
Keywords: property, affect, visual ethnography, photography, representation, yards
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Grand Ballroom E, Sheraton, 5th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper examines the capacities of ethnography, photography, and storytelling to represent everyday experiences with practicing property in one potent realm – privately owned front and back yards. Cities have come alive as assemblages of lively materials, distributed agencies, and animated political and material flows. At the same time, there is renewed interest on the part of geographers to better take into account lived experiences and the embodied politics of difference. Relations between people and their everyday surroundings are central to these critical analyses. One such realm, yards, can be seen as bounded territories, and at the same time, can be understood as sets of relations. In the US context, these are spaces intimately bound up with uneven geographies of ownership. Yards are also places of creativity, skill, experimentation and failure. As such, yards provide an opportunity to see how property becomes territorialized (Blomley 2016) and practiced through everyday inhabitation. Heeding calls from feminist geographers to experiment and tell stories more attuned to difference (eg Gibson et al 2015, Stewart 2007), this paper pairs photographs with text to examine contradictory narratives of practicing property through environmental care labor. The paper itself is an experiment in representing this register of property affects, and concludes with reflections on the visual politics embedded in such representation.

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