About the Project

v i s u a l i z i n g   i m m i g r a n t   P h o e n i x

Our research team of undergraduates at Arizona State University engages in ethnographic fieldwork in metro Phoenix in order to visually document immigrants’ imprint upon the cityscape. Taken together, this website’s compilation of researchers’ digital imaging, short ethnographic narratives, and mini-interviews richly demonstrate that, although flying below the radar of official planning instruments and public acknowledgement, migrants are busily transforming our collective urban environment.

Migrants have revived stagnant neighborhood economies, brought vibrant, magical-realist redesign to the built environment, added colorful flair to the city’s subdued design palette, and diversified the city with local outcroppings of global religions, cuisines, cultures. Yet Arizona’s immigration controversies so often leave city residents reluctant to appreciate the creativity with which migrants remake the cityscape. Visualizing Immigrant Phoenix aims to make visible immigrants’ contributions and suggest that they’re deservedly central to conversations envisioning urban futures.

a n d   o t h e r   S p i n o f f s

See us in the news, other publications, and more, as word gets out about our project.



NEW! Five short digital media projects we created for Displacements, the Society for Cultural Anthropology's first-ever virtual conference . April 19-21, 2018.


Click for photos

  • Displacements, VIDEOS created for the first-ever virtual conference of the Society for Cultural Anthropology & the Society for Visual Anthropology. April 19-21, 2018.


  • Parking Day, Downtown Phoenix; we created a DACA Park, 9/15/17

Upcoming exhibitions


Kristin Koptiuch, Faculty Mentor

Research TeamS

Spring 2018  New Team!



Research Assistant

Spring 2017



Research Assistants

Fall 2016:

How do we do it?

Research team members work on projects both collaboratively and individually, documenting immigrant activities and neighborhoods. Each dedicates an average of a few hours a week. We practice beyond-the-classroom learning, engaging in visual documentation and qualitative ethnography in the urban laboratory of our city. We use census data to identify areas in the city with a high proportion of immigrants, and explore these areas as well as our own neighborhoods and others where we find intriguing prospects to explore. Researchers’ visualization and ethnographic research skills vary according to their major, ethnicity, language proficiency, and experiences in Phoenix communities. The resultant interdisciplinary, inter-ethnic synergies work to the project’s advantage, enriching students’ perspectives and resultant creative visualizations. Mentoring comes not only from project director Prof. Koptiuch, but also from peers on the team. Researchers share image sets, critique each other's visualizations, and collaborate in curating collections of our most evocative images for the exhibition. They each create their own photo essays about site visits and mini-interviews accompanied by short analytical text, as well as curate photo sets, all of which are addressed to our local communities and a worldwide audience through this website.


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Ranch Market, Maryvale, Phoenix
Ranch Market, Maryvale, Phoenix

© 2016-17 Kristin Koptiuch and individual authors. Please give credit to authors when citing. Viewpoints expressed are those of the authors and do not represent views of the project director or ASU. All photos taken by team members unless otherwise indicated. Please contact us if you have questions, comments, suggestions.