Latinos, the largest minority group in the U.S, accounted for 17.6% of the population (56.6 million) in 2015. In Allegheny County (Pittsburgh and its suburbs), the number of Latinos increased by 71% between the last two censuses and was estimated to be almost 25,000 in 2015 (2%). This constitutes an emerging Latino immigrant community, where Latinos face an environment without culturally tailored supports and opportunities and where social isolation is common.
PhotoVoice is a research and expression methodology that enables those with low access to privilege to share their stories with the larger public. While the method has much in common with recent trends in community-based art, our project will also build bridges across disciplines to facilitate the recognition of Latinos in the larger community. Recognition with dignity is crucial for the inclusion of communities.
The project has three elements:
Photography: With the help of the Latino Engagement Group for Salud, CHE will invite Latinos who work in services, construction and landscaping to participate. We want to focus on those who are likely to carry a heavy burden of social inequity and lack recognition as important actors within US society. Our goal is to recruit twelve adults, six men and six women from various Latin American origins, including two to four individuals who speak an indigenous language. PhotoVoice participants will meet with Pitt project organizers and receive Ipad minis to take photographs to answer the question: “What does it mean to be Latino?” During three meetings participants will select three of their pictures and talk as a group about the meaning of the pictures in their own lives.
Curation: The faculty/student team will transcribe the taped discussions, import them into a qualitative data analysis program (NVivo) to create a database that will facilitate the curatorial process and later exhibition. At a final meeting, participants will select some of their pictures to share with the public and we will use the text from the discussions to collectively construct the narratives in the fashion of PhotoVoice.
Exhibition and Discussion: The team has planned two exhibitions which will be accompanied by a panel discussion of academics, artists, and community members. One exhibition will take place at the University and another at a community venue. At each exhibition, a panel of academics, artists, and community members will discuss the meaning of the photographs from various points of view. Our team believes that the open discussion of what it means to be Latino in an emerging community and the acknowledgement of this invisible population will promote human rights as well mental and social health. We are also in discussions with the University Library System’s digital collections to make a permanent repository for the material collected through this project.
Camilo Ruiz and Patricia Documet, School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh
Caitlin Bruce, Communication, University of Pittsburgh
Paulina Pardo and Kirk Savage, History of Art & Architecture, University of Pittsburgh
Kathleen Musante, Anthropology, University of Pittsburgh
Angelina Cotler, Center for Latin American Studies, University of Pittsburgh