three small photos: left shows trees in front of a snowy schoolyard, center (vertical) shows a crosswalk (with no curbcut)in front of an aging apartment building, right (horizontal) shows a snowy cityscape at sunrise

Disabling structures: Perspectives on Marginalization in a Russian Cityscape is a documentary photo essay by Cassandra Hartblay in the journal Landscapes of Violence. LoV is a peer reviewed periodical dedicated to fostering a dialogue between scholarly discourses on violence, conflict, trauma, and human rights, and published in an accessible, online, multimedia format published at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

About “Disabling structures”

A recent Human Rights Watch report documented the ways in which people with mobility impairments in Russia are both physically and socially marginalized by the built environment in Russian cities, which is strikingly inaccessible. These photos attempt to center the perspective of people with disabilities traversing (or being limited by) the Russian cityscape, and explore the ways in which (failure to adhere to) building codes effectively limit the public participation of people with (certain) disabilities in the daily life of the democracy. Subtle barriers, immediately obvious to a wheelchair-user, begin to emerge for the viewer considering these photographs. They document the ways in which people with disabilities recognize the material structures of the city as socially produced, and as a key factor excluding them from public life. Seemingly passive objects and the history of particular infrastructures turn out to be arbiters of marginalization, domination, and discrimination.

Download the ten-photo series and accompanying essay from the Landscapes of Violence website.