This paper examines young people’s ‘lived’ experience of urban spaces in Accra, the capital of Ghana, by focusing
on the use of auto-photography as an appropriate method for this investigation. Accra has a very young population
and low rates of employment among the young people, demographics that are often associated with societal instability
and increased risk of civil conflict. Research into African youth and the urban spaces they occupy is scarce and involves
real challenges, but it is necessary and urgent due to various issues of exclusion and identity. This paper reports part
of a larger phenomenological study on the spatial exclusion of youth in Accra’s urban spaces. The theoretical framework
builds on Lefebvrian dialectics of space and focuses on how notions of belonging and exclusion are reflected in
the mode of ‘lived space’. The fieldwork was completed on a small sample of young people in two distinct neighborhoods
of Accra. In essence, the focus of the paper is on the urban spaces occupied by young people and on the utility
of the participatory research tool adopted, auto-photography. In this context, the tool is less intrusive than direct observation
and therefore well equipped to allow an ‘insider’ view into personal experiences and perceptions of place that
are otherwise difficult to access and study. The paper concludes with a call for urban professionals and decision makers
to produce inclusive urban environments that cater for all while allowing for differences and belonging to co-exist.
Keywords: Accra, Youth, Exclusion, Belonging, Auto-photography.
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