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Durham University

Department of Sociology

Completed Projects

Politics, Community and Resistance in Skid Row.

A research project of the Department of Sociology.


Vancouver (Canada)'s Downtown East Side (DTES) has recently been described by one of Canada's leading journalists as "the most concentrated scene of human degradation in North America" (Wente, 2008). Our exploratory research seeks to capture something of the lived experience and liveable lives (Agamben 2005) of the inhabitants through fieldwork involving ethnographic and visual methods. Our collaboration seeks to uncover the power relations and organisation of social difference in DTES and we also seek to both visualise difference and produce other ways of seeing the spaces and places of 'community' through the eyes of some of the most marginalised inhabitants.


To conduct a critical recovery of the history of DTES through the lives and experiences of the most marginalised and the experiences and policies of the major agencies of social control and welfare i.e., criminal justice, welfare, education, community and voluntary sector agencies.


We will use visual and participatory methods to capture the lives of the people of DTES through the use of photography; a number of biographical interviews; and interviews with agencies involved in supporting the residents of DTES as well as government officials and planners.


Contribution to knowledge in the form of a research report, conference papers, journal articles and visual data in the form of photographs. A subsequent research funding bid. We intend to produce articles on sex work, homelessness, street art and the governance of substance abuse.


From the Department of Sociology

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