Imagining home, picturing community: newcomer perspectives on immigration and the city

Authors: Pablo Bose*, University of Vermont
Topics: Ethnicity and Race, Urban Geography, Migration
Keywords: Refugees, photovoice, immigration, urban planning, visual methods
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/3/2019
Start / End Time: 12:40 PM / 2:20 PM
Room: Senate Room, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The past few years have witnessed the rise of xenophobic rhetoric and anti-immigrant sentiment in countries of the Global North at a scale unseen in decades. While immigrants from non-European backgrounds have long been racialized in settler societies, the rise of far-right, white nationalist and anti-immigrant political movements and governments across western liberal democracies have ushered in a new age of unsettling visibility and vulnerability for newcomers. How do immigrants see their new homes and communities under such circumstances? In this paper, I draw on one aspect of a much larger project exploring the experience of resettled refugees in smaller cities and towns (rather than large metropolitan gateways) in the US over the past decade. I look at the results of a community-based initiative to use photovoice as a way of identifying places of importance and areas in need of improvement for refugee populations. This effort was meant to map and document such spaces by the research team and to critique and redefine such meaning-making with our community collaborators, all with the goal of intervening in urban planning decisions and investments by the city and state in specific neighborhoods. But in an era of heightened scrutiny and tension within and among immigrant communities, what does it mean to make oneself and one’s significant places so visible—to outsiders of all kinds? In this paper, I explore the ethics, challenges and possibilities of using visual methods such as photovoice as a tool for intervention in the daily life of immigrant neighborhoods.

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