Digital media practices in geography: a proposed methodological framework

Authors: Marianna Trimarchi*,
Topics: Cultural Geography, Urban Geography, Qualitative Methods
Keywords: digital urban space, media practice, Instagram, art district, Lefebvre, right to the city
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 5:00 PM / 6:40 PM
Room: Executive Room, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Within the digital turn in geography, we build on Lefebvre’s spatial triad questioning which methodologies can study the logics that digitally produce and reproduce space and urban visual imaginaries. Geomedia and social media are embedded in everyday life and are accelerating cities’ growth as relational and networked spaces, triangulating the relationship between space, media and urban dwellers. Nonetheless, even if media practices are domesticated and naturalized, asymmetrical relations of power persevere. Top-down processes in policymaking curb participation, social inclusion and, ultimately, the right to the city.
The analytical framework proposed interprets and updates Lefebvre’s triad through digital media practices:
1. geomapping explains how space is conceived by urbanists and geographers (representations of spaces);
2. visual methods applied to social media images bring to evidence how it is perceived and experienced by urban dwellers (spaces of representation);
3. digital ethnographies refer to enacted and lived spatial practices linking media use to material and sensory environments.
Evidence is searched in the analysis of three networked territories, three art districts – Bushwick NY, The Arts District LA and Miami Wynwood Walls – where these interactions emerge through maps, Instagram pictures and hashtags.

Debates on the creative city have indeed problematized the role of these cultural spaces with issues as gentrification, particularly in the light of resisting inequalities that broaden the gap between policymakers and communities. The analysis therefore aims to understand whether bottom-up digital media practices bring to critically re-appropriate the right to the city or if they adhere to its normative reproduction.

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