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Summary: Directed by sociologist Sudhir Venkatesh, this documentary film is based on ethnographic field research conducted by Venkatesh at the (now demolished) Robert Taylor Homes public housing development in Chicago, IL. A description of the film is provided on the film's website: "In February 2002, families living in the Robert Taylor Homes public housing development were given a 180 day notice of eviction. In six months, the community that had been their home for generations would be demolished. DISLOCATION chronicles the lives of tenants in one building as they move through the six-month relocation process. The filmmakers follow three families as they prepare for their own move and as they help others around them. DISLOCATION is a story of a community coping with its own impending demise. It is a tale of courage, hope, and survival." This film is an ideal compliment to most topics covered in an urban sociology course, which include discussions of gentrification, urban poverty, racism, underground economies, community and family support networks, police interactions, and much more. The ideas explored in the film are expanded in more detail in Venkatesh's books, American Project: The Rise and Fall of a Modern Ghetto (2000) and Gang Leader for a Day: A Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Streets (2008), which are based on the same ethnographic field research. The film (and books) would also be excellent to use in an ethnography course, and could help guide class discussions around written vs. visual ethnographies, and the (subjective) role of the ethnographer and her relationship to her research subjects. To gain access to the film, check out your university library or you can find purchasing information here.
Submitted By: Valerie Chepp