Document a community practice, ritual or event
Description: Invite students to identify a community practice, ritual or event that is relevant to the course, and document it using photography. This assignment engages students’ knowledge and authorship, and asks them to research, explore, capture, frame and explain the relations and dynamics of community practices and interactions. This type of assignment can be adapted to many courses which focus on issues of culture, community and social interactions.
The practice of make-shift death shrines in Harlem is an example of a community practice that is documented through instagram. This projects actively engage a community practice that carries a lot of history and cultural significance. Note how there are no images of people in the project which minimizes the risk and responsibilities of including human subjects in photographs. While this is not a necessary precondition, depending on the class and context it is important to take into consideration issues of privacy and ownership as students produce and share photographs.
Here is another example of a project that uses photography and other media to archive oral histories of women of color.
Notes:This assignment is a powerful way to tap into the funds of knowledge of students and invite them to bring to the class their unique contributions and knowledge. It is also an assignment that challenges the class to explore and debate what constitutes a community, a practice or a ritual. Students can explore, investigate and frame these concepts through photography. On one level photography is accessible because most students have a cell phone or can acquire one to take pictures, and easily participate in the assignment. On the other hand, consider an alternative for visually impaired students (perhaps an audio recording). Also plan on how you will assess this assignment. It is best practice to ask students to submit text along with the images, framing their picture-taking with some context and reflection. This also offers more opportunity for assessment