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Lightness and weight: (re)reading urban potentialities through photographs

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Geographical fieldwork often involves using photography to document and illustrate theoretical and empirical concerns. Capturing images is deeply entwined in a complex web of associations, linking the epistemology of research practice with the perceived nature of evolving spatial processes. One example of this is the way urban geographers use images to document the transformation of urban landscapes. This is the outcome of not only material but also discursive forces that reshape the urban imaginary. The discourses of post‐industrial entrepreneurial urbanism that stimulated the development of Irish cities during the Celtic Tiger offer a clear case in point. However, when the set of relations and suppositions that underpin the way in which we formulate meaning through these landscape images shifts – such as the case with the current economic ‘crisis’– then the images themselves take on new resonances, identities and potentialities. Taking the Celtic Tiger crash as a starting point, this article explores one image taken during fieldwork researching urban change in Cork. Focusing on the way in which the image disrupts the linear (progress) vision of the city, the article examines how in the absence of a clear urban ‘idea’ we are left with an uncoordinated system of urban signs, but also perhaps a deterritorialised city of potentiality.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: National Institute for Regional and Spatial Analysis, Iontas Building, National University of Ireland Maynooth, Maynooth, Co Kildare, Ireland.

Publication date: 2012-06-01

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