“Visability”. Visual Research on Abilities During the Jubilee of Mercy

  • Abstract:

    Nowadays pictures and video have become more and more popular in capturing, communicating and sharing social happenings with a massive impact on social practices and representation of reality. The research job aims to investigate the spreading of digital devices in a religious event when combined with a consistent presence of sickness and disability. In order to analyse this topic, a visual qualitative research study has been developed during the special Jubilee of Mercy that Pope Francesco dedicated to people affected by sickness and disability − Rome, 10-12 of June 2016 − in a perspective of observant participation. More than 2000 pictures from the researcher and the pilgrims from Catholic countries, note fields and about 70 interviews with pilgrims have been collected and then treated and analysed, in two ways. The first kind of analysis leads to an ethnographic reconstruction of those three days with in-depth views on pictures and life stories; the second one leads to define conceptual, thematic areas (as the use of photography in religious event and a sociological research; direct and virtual relationship; organization tools and roles of the special event; sickness and disabilities as care). The results are about a new convergent perspective: that one of “visability”, a neologism born from the research, that links together the word “visibility” and “ability”. In the substance, the research points out how different identity languages can pretend to be as visible as accepted. In that case, the image use seems reducing the difference perceived by disables and sick people about their condition, giving them a chance to participate and express themselves similarly to all the others, adding a welcome claim for their identity, in the past taken in the dark.