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Participatory Photography: Perception of The Children of Urban Slum Dwellers

by on December 20, 2010

Participatory photography has been regarded as a tool of visual anthropology and sociology. This paper attempts to reflect perceptual structure and the use of urban space in slum settlement through the eyes of children by employing participatory photography exercise. The area of study is Baseco, one of the largest slum settlement in Manila City, and the participants are the children of slum dwellers who previously never learn about the mechanism of camera by which pictures taken by them interestingly show an aesthetic quality of visual images. The way they see and perceive their environment provide an entry to understand their affective domain response to an object or phenomenon. This paper begins with participatory photography as theory, method, and praxis with certain notable case studies of research approach for working with children and marginalised groups. This paper continues with a brief description of Manila City in general and Baseco in particular and spesific political condition during the field research. After that, this paper will describe detailed methodology of participatory photography used in this research in which the researchers directly involved with the teaching and feedback sessions. Following that, the analysis of taken pictures and narratives will open the discussion which focuses on the spatial semiotic, visual manifestations of the interest of the children and its relationship with surrounding physical and social elements, simulating their daily experience. To them, the beauty of slum settlement represented a place called home in which the sea, playground, and market shape their life. This paper concludes that the interaction of physical and social elements construct and transform the perception of children about their environment, vice versa. At the same time, aesthetic judgments are culturally conditioned to which the urban space deconstructs and deconstructed.

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