The performative photograph: A poietic approach to visual ethnography in a French banlieue

Camilo Leon-Quijano


  • By reexamining the empirical relationship between ethnography and photography, this article explores the phenomenology of photographic experiences in a French banlieue. Photography may be a powerful practice to critically depict social phenomena in the field. Taking into account the basic assumption that photography is more than visual evidence of observed realities, I analyze the creative and nonindexical dimensions of visual experiences. Based on collaborative, sensorial, and pragmatic practices, I discuss the politics of visual representation in marginalized and racialized urban spaces from an intersectional point of view. The analysis developed here contributes to the definition of a creative and critically self-reflexive approach to the depiction of ethnographic experiences. In doing so, this article explores the plastic, poietic, and performative dimensions of photographic narratives in visual ethnography.Figure 1. (Author, 2017)

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.1086/718000