Session 3: Focus on New York, Short Papers , , , , ,

Out of Bounds: Mapping Uptown Youth’s Everyday Mobility through Geotagged Photo-making

Svetlana Jović
SUNY Old Westbury

Jennifer M. Pipitone
College of Mount Saint Vincent

This participatory action research project took place at Bronx Community College located in the poorest congressional district in the USA. Using photography, writing, and mapping (through photo geo-tagging), our project aimed to promote a sense of belonging among BCC students by understanding what “community” means to them, what they experience as their communities’ assets and challenges, and how they see their contribution and role within various communities. Expanding upon interpretations of data made by the entire research team, we present a spatial analysis of the geo-locations of participants’ photographs in order to illustrate and make sense of their experience of belonging in the city. Findings indicate participants experienced the blatant socioeconomic disparities characteristic of NYC neighborhoods as they traversed from one environment to another, which impacted their sense of engagement, mobility, and investment in certain communities. Participants articulated the notion that they are “the one side of the two cities,” illustrating a sense of otherness from the rest of the city. This finding was also supported by the geo-locations of their photo-making, which clustered within the “small radius” in which their lives took place. Maps revealed that participants restricted their movement to the area north of Central Park/110th street, delineating participants’ lived boundary of race and class. Overall, findings suggest that the resulting increase in participants’ sense of ownership and agency over their communities was mediated by their deeper sense-making about their individual—and their communities’—position within the broader inequitable distribution of power and resources.