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Visual Methodologies

Visual Methodologies

Photovoice and participatory video media foster both intra-community and inter-partner collaborative identification of issues, visioning of collective futures, and education in development alternatives. They also provide grassroots means of access to public media. CICADA has become a hub for transfer of this expertise to other indigenous partners. Professors, students and community-based researchers and activists collaborate to foster general enhancement of this capacity throughout the partner network.

Given the multidimensional and complex problems and needs that each community and organisation is experiencing, we approach this research in a flexible manner; however, we recognise that there are some fundamental cross-cutting similarities for all partner organisations involved, as well as for the overall themes discussed by CICADA.

This research theme connects with all other themes at CICADA. Indigenous households and local communities are basic units that sustain the social grid of interrelations and connections with outside organisations and agents. Hence, documenting daily events and processes within an inclusive and dialogical environment and with the purpose to “enhance the capacity of our partners for knowledge-seeking and knowledge based networking and activism (Scott, 2013)” is at the core. The participatory video and photo voice theme is rooted into three interconnected notions, broadly describe described below: a) knowledge dialogues b) participatory action research and c) local people as community researchers.

Knowledge dialogues

‘Knowledge dialogues’ between indigenous partners, academics and other actors in the society is an ongoing mutual learning process. It aims to foster the social construction of knowledge through diverse types of exchange. Ideas, feelings, images, beliefs, concepts, strategies, stories, expectations and experiences are the substrate for creating newer, richer ways of looking at regional scale issues such as those convened by CICADA: co-management regimes, customary tenures, violence, criminalization and dispute resolution, and local livelihoods and food sovereignty. Knowledge dialogues is a creative, equitable way in which different cultures can find common grounds for understanding problems that affect both indigenous and western societies. Therefore a central goal for the experiences evolved during the participatory video and photo voice research theme is to craft the means for emerging synergies between different knowledges and ontologies.

Participatory Action Research

Participatory Action Research (PAR) is based on reflection, data collection, and action to transform and to be transformed. It helps to question the origin of knowledge and to which extent it can represent the interests of the powerful and serve to reinforce their positions in society. In PAR, experience is at the centre of ‘knowing’, and that experiential learning can lead to legitimate forms of knowledge that can influence practical actions. It also enables researchers to work collaboratively with local communities in ways that can lead to action for change.

Community researchers – ‘campesino a campesino’

Campesino a campesino’ is a communication and educational method widely used in Latin America, lead by people as the central actors of their own ‘buen vivir’ and development. Campesino researchers and trainers visit and/or meet with other campesinos with the purpose to impart their knowledge, experiences, preoccupations and expectations over a theme of common concern. A community researcher is a member from a local indigenous community that has developed skills other than the ones acquired from their ancestors and rural life activities. Usually these skills are learned through knowledge dialogues with academics and researchers that share with them methodologies and tools for organizing, keeping track of, and monitoring socio-ecological dynamics. These tools can vary greatly depending on the identified needs and priorities to improve their livelihoods. Community researchers can learn how to use computers, GPS, and other technologies useful for strengthening their autonomy and their ability to communicate and take control of their resources and territories.

The ways in which these methods are used through our projects associated with this theme depend on the circumstances, the context and the particular needs of each group, community and organization. They are multipurpose, as for some they function for natural resources monitoring, or for training local community researchers, or for documenting a specific environmental issue in a locality or a region. The time frame and the frequency of intervention is also context dependent.

Theme Leaders: Claudia Mitchell, Steven Schnoor, Evodia Silva, Dale Turner

Theme Contributors

Caroline Desbiens
Steven Jordan
Eduardo Kohn
Catherine Potvin

Colin H. Scott
Daviken Studnicki-Gizbert
Karine Vanthuyne

Associated Projects

Community Atlas of the Urracá District, Panama

Documenting Oral History of Development in the Comarca Ngäbe-Buglé, Panama

Documenting the Work of the Consejo para la Protección y Preservación de la Ceremonia Ritual de Voladores

Indigenous Confluence: the Role of Indigenous Knowledge in River Restoration and Sustainable Futures

Indigenous Engagements with Mining in Canada and Guatemala: Developing Refined Understandings through Collaboration and Comparison

Centre for Indigenous Conservation and Development Alternatives