Photo essays by an international collaborative of urban studies specialists, architects, and photographers bring interdisciplinary perspectives that provoke critical insights on London urbanism and pursue a fresh, interpretive visual practice of photographic ethnographics.
Visual documentation and representation of social changes in urban frames present a challenge and an opportunity for anthropologists; thus, a collaborative approach with specialists in urban studies, architects, and photographers offers new pathways for understanding temporal and spatial transformations in a complex and multifaceted metropolis. A panel of international participants in University of London Goldsmiths' International Urban Photography Summer School tackle this challenge by bringing interdisciplinary perspectives into photographic essays that provoke novel ethnographic insights on London urbanism. Panelists use photos analytically to disclose critical glimpses into the emergent culture of the city's neoliberal urban transformation. Adopting a photo essay format, our photographic ethnographics visualize a variety of London urbanism's traces, treasures, figures, costs, and consequences. Each participant brings theoretical reflections on visual practice through deployment of their own camera lucida to trace original refractive angles on the city's urban ethnographics: imaginary, symbolic, and Real. The panel's interdisciplinary approach also allows a theoretical reflection on the double role of anthropologists as producers of images and observers of other people's image production. Thus, from our diverse fields of anthropology, architecture, geography, literary criticism, photography, sociology, urban planning and more, we learn from the dialogue between the city of London and us, and between us as visual practitioners coming from different backgrounds. This dialogue pursues a fresh, interpretive practice of photographic ethnographics.