Unruly Landscapes and the City of London

Mobility Studies, Street Photography, and Stephen McLaren's The Crash

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Susan P. Mains Lecturer, School of Humanities, Social Sciences, and Law, University of Dundee, UK s.p.mains@dundee.ac.uk

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Photography narrates places through space and time. It is a storytelling method and format that not only reflects the landscapes viewed, but can also act as a catalyst for reflection and critical engagement with hidden mobilities that are in plain sight. In this article I illustrate the ways in which photography offers a unique opportunity to humanize and critique economic crises and unequal experiences of urban landscapes. Drawing on research in mobility studies, media studies, and cultural geography, this study interweaves interdisciplinary approaches to representation and urbanization to highlight the importance of visual narratives in how we negotiate and manage city life. Examining the work of Stephen McLaren, specifically through his photographic series, The Crash: London's Finance Disaster 2008, this article analyzes the ways in which photography brings into relief both public and private relationships with place and finance. By directly examining the use of photography, singular narratives of economic and social mobility are called into question, while an important entryway is opened into a more nuanced use of critical visual analysis to understand shifting mobilities, and economic and emotional geographies. Visual media analysis offers an opportunity to move beyond representations of crises, and their related built environments, as exceptional and distinct, highlighting instead an often hidden series of related contradictory socio-spatial mobilities.

Contributor Notes

Susan P. Mains (s.p.mains@dundee.ac.uk) is a Lecturer in Human Geography in the School of Humanities, Social Sciences, and Law, University of Dundee. Her work examines transnational identities and media representations of mobility, borders, and security in the context of Caribbean migration, creativity in Jamaica and Scotland, and heritage tourism. She has been actively involved in collaborating with artists, curating exhibitions, and developing walking workshops as part of research and public engagement processes examining connections to place. Her most recent curated collaborative exhibition, Moving Jamaica: Scottish–Caribbean Connections and Local–Global Journeys, explores identity, race, colonialism, and mobility.

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