Visualising the City | Heng | Visual Ethnography
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Visualising the City

Terence Heng, Jesse O’Neill


In 2017 the fifth iteration of the International Visual Methods Conference was held at the Singapore Institute of Technology.

The theme, “Visualising the City”, brought together more than 110 participants from 26 different countries, with a combination of paper presentations, art exhibitions and walking workshops. Deliberately interdisciplinary, the conference theme sought submissions from the arts, humanities, social sciences and hard sciences.

This special issue of Visual Ethnography follows on from the conference theme, in which the contributions, again drawn from a diverse set of disciplines, approaches and theories, considers how (and why) we visualize global urban environments, and what are the implications for such methods. In this introduction we reflect on the conference’s theme, keynotes and papers, and how these have led to the formation of the issue. We seek to contextualize the issue’s articles and photo-essays within theories of visual methods in the social science and the city, and propose that visual methods in ethnographic traditions have particular strengths in revealing urban place-making through everyday praxis, subtle resistance and deliberate narratives.


city; visual culture; visual methods; art; urban ethnography; visual anthropology; urban anthropology

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BANKS, Marcus

Visual Methods in Social Research. London: SAGE.

BANKS, Marcus

Using Visual Data in Qualitative Research. London: SAGE.

BASHAM, Victoria

War, Identity and the Liberal State : Everyday Experiences of the Geopolitical in the Armed Forces. London: Routledge.

DEWALT, Kathleen Musante – DEWALT, Billie R.

Participant Observation : A Guide for Fieldworkers. Rowman & Littlefield.

GRANT, Aimee – MORGAN, Melanie - DUNLA, Gallagher – MANNAY, Dawn

Smoking during Pregnancy, Stigma and Secrets: Visual Methods Exploration in the UK. Women and Birth. Retrieved December 31, 2018.

HARPER, Douglas A

Good Company : A Tramp Life. London: Routledge.

HENG, Terence

An Appropriation of Ashes: Transient Aesthetic Markers and Spiritual Place-Making as Performances of Alternative Ethnic Identities. The Sociological Review 63(1): 57–78.

HENG, Terence

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A Politics of the Urban Ordinary: The Material Ad Hoc-Ness of Shops in London. GeoHumanities 2(1): 255–75.


The Sociology of Architecture : Constructing Identities. Liverpool: University of Liverpool Press.

KNOWLES, Caroline

Race and Social Analysis. London: SAGE.

KNOWLES, Caroline – HARPER, Douglas A.

Hong Kong : Migrant Lives, Landscapes, and Journeys. Chicago, Ill.: University of Chicago Press.

KNOWLES, Caroline – SWEETMAN, Paul

Picturing the Social Landscape : Visual Methods and the Sociological Imagination. London: Routledge.

KONG, Lily

Ideological Hegemony and the Political Symbolism of Religious Buildings in Singapore. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 11(1): 23–45.


The Production of Space. Oxford: Blackwell.

ORR, Terrell W

Occupy(Ing) Wall Street: A Photo Essay. International Feminist Journal of Politics 14(3): 422–25.


Street Discourse: A Visual Essay on Urban Signification. Culture Unbound: Journal of Current Cultural Research 1(2): 263–72.

PENZ, François – KOECK, Richard

Cinematic Urban Geographies. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

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The Visual in Ethnography: Photography, Video, Cultures and Individuals. Pp. 123–44 in SAGE Visual Methods, Jason Hughes (ed). London: SAGE.


The Global City. Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press.

SHANAATHANAN, Thamotharampillai

Commemorating Home: Art as Place Making, an Artist’s Narration. Journal of Material Culture 20(4): 415–28.


The Metropolis and Mental Life. Stimuli.


Apprehending Everyday Rhythms: Rhythmanalysis, Time-Lapse Photography, and the Space-Times of Street Performance. Cultural Geographies 19(4): 423–45.

KWOK, Brian Sze-hang – COPPOOLSE, Anneke

Hong Kong Skins: Signs and Screens in a Changing Cityscape. Visual Communication 17(1): 71–90.

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Religious Urbanism in Singapore: Competition, Commercialism and Compromise in the Search for Space. Social Compass Retrieved January 20, 2019. (

YE, Junjia

Notes from ‘Migrant Encounters’: Visualizing Singapore’s Diversity through South Asian Male Migrants. Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography 34(3): 407–13.


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ISSN Print 2499-9288
ISSN Online 2281-1605
Publisher Edizioni Museo Pasqualino
Patronage University of Basilicata, Italy
Web Salvo Leo

Periodico registrato presso il Tribunale di Palermo con numero di registrazione 1/2023