Paper short abstract:
Just as migrants escape border walls, "Visualizing Immigrant Phoenix" escapes the confines of classroom, museum, minoritized city spaces. Materialized as an exhibition, this ethnographic collaborative engages viewers with vibrant visualization of immigrants' everyday imprint on Phoenix's cityscape.
Paper long abstract:
Just as migrants escape border walls, "Visualizing Immigrant Phoenix," a student-faculty ethnographic collaborative I direct, escapes the confines of classroom, museum, minoritized city spaces. Materialized as an exhibition, this project engages viewers with vibrant visualization of immigrants' everyday imprint on Phoenix's cityscape. Flying below the radar of official planning instruments and public acknowledgement in anti-immigrant Arizona, migrants have nonetheless transformed our collective urban environment (20% of Phoenix is foreign born, 65% from Mexico). Ethnographic documentation brings everyday themes (migrant portraits, artifacts, events, neighborhoods, businesses, landscapes) to community attention at a time when immigrants are increasingly demonized, criminalized, denied due process, citizenship, human rights: Migrants revive stagnant neighborhood economies emptied by urban sprawl's centrifugal pull. They bring vivid, magical-realist redesign, adding colorful cultural flair to the city's subdued design palette. Migrants turn iconic fast-food joints into taquerias, defunct mall anchor department stores into swap-meet mercados, their children into made-Americans. Migrant planners-from-below transnationalize Phoenix urbanism with local outcroppings of global religions, cuisines, cultures. Their insurgent urbanism supersedes Phoenix boosters' defensive vision of sundrenched, monocultural uniformity, embracing a complex transnational urban future. Anchored by enlarged and projected photos accompanied by short evocative accounts, our exhibit integrates video shorts, sonic atmospherics, website projection, researcher storytelling, and interactive portraits for viewers to affirm solidarity with migrants. Displaying artful photographic ethnographics offers diverse audiences a visually rich (en)counter-narrative to open fresh outlooks for envisioning collective urban futures that embrace the transformative, potentially subversive power of the city's defacto diasporic remaking. www.VisualizingImmigrantPhoenix.com
Exhibiting Anthropology beyond Museum Collections