Visually Re-membering the Eastside: Trajectories of Belonging and Displacement in Austin
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Historically the home to predominantly Black and Chicanx communities, the Eastside of Austin, Texas is being confronted with the distinct pressures of the city’s rapid growth. Residents of the Eastside are experiencing significant losses of the physical spaces in the communities of the Eastside, such as the closures of schools and local businesses, while many lifelong community members are being pressured to sell their homes to developers as property values increase. This research explores the effects of these pressures and losses in the day-to-day lives of residents who are most vulnerable through visual and anthropologically-informed methods. Through the visual approaches of photovoice and social mapping, this research challenges traditional photographic practice as a means of providing a ‘voice to the voiceless’ by facilitating community members in re-membering the Eastside. This research also explores the value of these visual methods to cultural anthropology, as they may serve to complement more established ethnographic research methods, such as informal interviews. This research examines the complex, ambivalent experiences of long-term residents living a gentrifying space, where senses of belonging, home, and place though are being actively challenged, perhaps even subverted by the incoming demographic, are also able to remain fixed both within and because of community practice. Through the visual research methods used in this project, considerations of agency and representation are reviewed for future visual inquiry of space and place, belonging, displacement, and other relating issues in social research.