Imag(in)ing ‘homeless places’: using auto-photography to (re)examine the geographies of homelessness

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Abstract

Despite its growing popularity as a method across the social sciences, the methodological literature on auto-photography is remarkably sparse. In an effort to begin redressing this gap, this paper provides an account of the ways in which auto-photography was used to complement other research methods in a (re)examination of the geographies of homelessness. It describes how auto-photography illuminated ‘hidden’ spaces that do not typically feature in public (or academic) imaginations of homelessness, and provided more nuanced understandings of the use, meanings and dynamics associated with other, apparently already ‘known’ spaces. It concludes that whilst auto-photography presents a number of logistical and ethical challenges – particularly when used with such a vulnerable group – it is nevertheless a powerful heuristic tool.

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