This paper, co-authored by Teresa Cairns and Denis Doran, was presented at Landscapes of the Self, Evora, Portugal, in November 2010; it draws upon a number of personal narratives from Catch22 clients involved in the UK criminal justice system, to explore mediated landscapes of identity and self.
Scattered Lives is a documentary about the work of Catch 22, an organisation in the UK that works with people on the margins of the Criminal Justice System. This work explores the shifting identities of individuals who define themselves in part through the language of the Criminal Justice System, and the tensions that revolve around the professional relationships that Catch 22 has with its client base. This work has come out of our backgrounds in a Documentary Photography practice that is auto/biographically informed, and by an Oral & Life History approach to Narrative and Identity.
The individuals we interviewed articulate their experiences within their own notions of borders and boundaries, both real and imagined, that they negotiate in their daily lives. The conflicts, emotions and experiences that inform their attitudes towards those boundaries and borders, both emotional and physical, are often spoken about in the language of the Criminal Justice System. As Eakin (1999) argues, the sense of self that we sustain draws upon, “models of identity provided by the cultures we inhabit,” that can be life enhancing or not. This individual sense of identity is embedded within concrete social experiences, (Vigotsky in Burkitt, 1991) and is reflected in the discursive construction of their narratives through movement between the life worlds of client, agency, and criminal justice system.