Neighbourhood Diaries: Imagining a Curriculum

posted by bishan samaddar

We have been talking about Neighbourhood Diaries for a while. It envisions to combine elements of Self-exploratory Creative Writing, Literacy through Photography and Citizen Journalism. However, we haven’t given much thought to what exactly the curriculum would look like. Here’s a skeleton of a curriculum that can be given some thought to, i suppose. Like Writing Out, this might also start with the exploration of the immediate self, and then slowly move centrifugally to larger themes. Each section should take up three to four weeks:

Self…  Discussion: Exploring the self: how do others see us? How do we see ourselves? Talk about Identities.  Activity/Writing Activity: Locating one object with which you identify, or something that symbolizes your self-perceived or self-defined identity.  Photo Assignment: Self-portrait and Photo of the identity object.  Self-inquiry; developing the spirit of questioning/interrogating self and beyond.

Home… Discussion: Home as a space which is a mixture of both desirable and undesirable elements. A part of your home you like, a part of your home you do not like that much (What memories are associated with these spaces? What issues come up?). A part of your home you like, a part of your home you do not like that much. Objective: Critical consciousness of personal space.

Neighbourhood (Place)…Discussion: Two specific places in the neighbourhood that has significance for you… description, daily activities, histories. Vignettes, focusing on details and based on observation and researched histories. Photo Assignment: Photographs of the places, from different angles/perspectives or at different times of the day, representing different aspects of the same physical spot. Developing research skills, consciousness of subaltern histories.

Neighbourhood (People) Discussion: Looking at people as characters. Writing Activity: Select one person in the neighbourhood and make a Portrait Sketch, based on observation, interview, researched personal histories. Photo Assignment: Portraits + Photo series depicting the daily life of the subject. Researching Life Stories.

4 Responses to “Neighbourhood Diaries: Imagining a Curriculum”


  1. 1 queer3779 April 18, 2007 at 5:19 pm

    Hi:
    To start with, I wish the formatting was clearer. But i am afraid, this is all that the site is allowing for the timebeing.
    I am wondering if we should have a whole section dedicated to interrogating Family. What we really need to work on however is to think of how the Writing Activities can be made interesting. I can imagine that if youth are given cameras, they can get carried away with the photography part, and not take the writing activities seriously. We have to counter than possibility.
    But primarily, the broad themes need to be decided upon.
    Bishan.

  2. 2 Sahar April 19, 2007 at 6:27 pm

    Bishan, This looks like a great starting point. You are right about the probability of young folks getting carried away with clicks and flashes. There are a few interesting individuals and groups here in Seattle who’ve done similar work and I’ll try dialouging with them about their strategies.

    I think they question of interrogating Families is an important one. I also think the notion of subaltern histories is pivotal to Diaries. I think that would be an important undercurrent to runing through all the themes – subaltern consciousness, subaltern voice. (Well, actually, that is the undercurrent of Kalam, no?) But I would like it to rise up a little more transperantly where the youth realize that they are apart of a voice (dis)/(re)covery project. What do you think?

    I’m reading Wendy Ewald’s Wanna Take Me a Picture. Will share more thoughts soon.

    Sahar (in Seattle)

  3. 3 Bishan April 22, 2007 at 4:55 am

    Hi Sahar:
    Thanks for your comment.
    I totally agree with you that the idea of subaltern histories is central to this Project. Should we have more sessions devoted to interrogating local histories?
    Family is indeed an important aspect. I think the session on Family in Writing Out is really good and effective. In fact, the writing actuvuty there lends itself beautifully to photography as well: think of a group of photos sohwing just the hands of each member of one’s family. It’ll look awesome!
    But, perhaps we should think of a new exercise.
    Bishan.


  1. 1 Visual Literacy in Neighborhood Diaries « Kalam: Margins Write Trackback on April 29, 2007 at 5:24 am

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