Imaged Community

Camilo’s doctoral dissertation engages a critical reflection on what he calls an “imaged community” (communauté imagée) in Sarcelles, a French marginalized city. Through a lengthy and immersive visual ethnography, his research shows the power of visual practices in the social and cultural definition of urban phenomena.

Camilo’s work provides a thoughtful, engaged and sophisticated explication of method, perspective and the pragmatics of photographic ethnography. The committee thought that Camilo surpassed the normal limitations and expectations for a dissertation by examining—in exquisite detail—the multiple contexts in which people’s “stories” are created and recreated, viewed, listened to and understood by the researcher/photographer, the participants, the community, and the larger world.


Sarcelles Under the Snow

Camilo Leon-Quijano/i>

“I made this photograph on February 2nd, 2018, as part of a visual ethnography for my doctoral research. This latter engages a critical reflection on what I called an “imaged community” (communauté imagée) in Sarcelles, a marginalized French city to the north of Paris. Based on long-term fieldwork (2015-2018) and an extensive body of ethnographic and photographic work, my research showed the role of images in the visual construction of Sarcelles as one of the most iconic banlieues in France. By studying the processes of making, sharing, and exhibiting images, my dissertation explored the sensitive foundations of visual experiences in urban settings. Through a long and immersive visual ethnography, my research evidences the power of visual practices…”



    Every photograph promises more than it delivers and delivers more than it intended.

    Steve Harp

  • I believe that we face incredible obstacles in our attempts to see the world. Everything in our nature tries to deny the world around us; to refabricate it in our own image; to reinvent it for our own benefit. And so, it becomes something of a challenge, a task, to recover (or at least attempt to recover) the real world despite all the impediments to that end.

    Errol Morris


    Sometimes one picture is equal to 30 pages of discourse, just as there are things images are completely incapable of communicating.

    William S. Burroughs


    One advantage of photography is that it’s visual and can transcend language.

    Lisa Kristine


    There are dignified stupidities, and there are heroic stupidities, and there is such a thing as stupid stupidities, and that would be a stupid stupidity not to have a camera on board.

    Werner Herzog


    Visual culture is now the study of how to understand change in a world too enormous to see but vital to imagine.

    Nicholas Mirzoeff

  • You try your hardest to give people their space, but at moments you know you’re capturing their image in ways they may or may not be okay with. It’s that rocking back and forth between respect and betrayal that I feel like is at the heart of the film.

    Kirsten Johnson


    The function of sociology, as of every science, is to reveal that which is hidden.

    Pierre Bourdieu

  • So it is my firm belief, that if you want nowadays, to have a clear and distinct communication of your concepts, you have to use synthetic images, no longer words.

    Vilém Flusser

  • Before I became a film major, I was very heavily into social science, I had done a lot of sociology, anthropology, and I was playing in what I call social psychology, which is sort of an offshoot of anthropology/sociology – looking at a culture as a living organism, why it does what it does.

    George Lucas


    Reality changes; in order to represent it, modes of representation must change.

    Bertolt Brecht


    For any picture, ask yourself what question or questions it might be answering. Since the picture could answer many, questions, we can decide what question we are interested in.

    Howard Becker

  • If you want to tell the untold stories, if you want to give voice to the voiceless, you’ve got to find a language. Which goes for film as well as prose, for documentary as well as autobiography. Use the wrong language, and you’re dumb and blind.

    Salman Rushdie


    If it’s far away, it’s news, but if it’s close at home, it’s sociology.

    James Reston

  • Photographers learn to interpret photographs in that technical way because they want to understand and use that ‘language’ themselves (just as musicians learn a more technical musical language than the layman needs). Social scientists who want to work with visual materials will have to learn to approach them in this more studious and time-consuming way

    Howard Becker

  • We never really know what’s around the corner when we’re filming – what turn a story will take, what a character will do or say to surprise us, how the events in the world will impact our story.

    Barbara Kopple

  • Watching a documentary with people hacking their way through some polar wasteland is merely a visual. Actually trying to deal with cold that can literally kill you is quite a different thing.

    Henry Rollins

  • Give us adequate images. We lack adequate images. Our civilization does not have adequate images. And I think a civilization is doomed or is going to die out like dinosaurs if it doesn’t develop an adequate language for adequate images.

    Werner Herzog


    The task for sociology is to come to the help of the individual. We have to be in service of freedom. It is something we have lost sight of.

    Zygmunt Bauman


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