Academic journal article McGill Journal of Education (Online)

A Tale of Two Sites: Cellphones, Participatory Video and Indigeneity in Community-Based Research/une Histoire, Deux Endroits : Téléphones Cellulaires, Vidéo Participatif et Indigénéité Dans Un Contexte De Recherche Communautaire

Academic journal article McGill Journal of Education (Online)

A Tale of Two Sites: Cellphones, Participatory Video and Indigeneity in Community-Based Research/une Histoire, Deux Endroits : Téléphones Cellulaires, Vidéo Participatif et Indigénéité Dans Un Contexte De Recherche Communautaire

Article excerpt

The use of participatory visual research through video cameras and cellphones is altering the ways in which communities might choose to represent themselves and their own concerns about what is important. Indeed, as is highlighted in recent publications about participatory visual methodologies (see Milne, Mitchell & de Lange, 2012; Mitchell, 2011), this is particularly the case in relation to marginalized communities who have typically been the "objects" (if noticed at all) in social research. Moreover, the relatively easy access to video equipment has in some cases changed the relationship between the researcher and the researched, and as we explore here has sometimes cut out the researcher role completely to the point where DIY (do-it-yourself) practices typically associated with an urban youth participatory cultures movement can just as likely be found in communities in rural South Africa or Mexico. In this article, we write as two researchers invested in community-based research through participatory visual methodologies such as photovoice, digital storytelling, and, as we describe here, participatory video. Over the past two decades, participatory video research (PVR) has become an increasingly popular approach to engaging communities, and has been used amongst a variety of groups including media activists, visual researchers, arts-based researchers, and community-based researchers. It has also become an important method used in various disciplines within academia and can be understood as a conscious attempt by researchers to not only address discourses and practices of dominance, but also explore the critical nexus between academia and activism. One of the principle aims of PVR is to use the process of media production to empower people in order to engender social change through research (Milne, Mitchell & de Lange, 2012; Mitchell, 2011; Pink, 2013; Yang, 2012), allowing the researcher and his / her research to have a tangible effect upon the community with whom they are collaborating.

We frame our work within Sudbury and Okazawa-Rey's (2009) idea of activist scholarship, which they defined as "the production of knowledge and pedagogical practices through active engagements with, and in service of [emphasis added], progressive social movements" (p. 3). They drew attention to the compatibility of a broad range of community-based approaches that could be used within an activist agenda, something that is echoed by Flood, Martin and Drehner (2013), who wrote about combining academia and activism: "the increasing emphasis on 'community engagement' or 'outreach' across the university sector provides a valuable means to legitimate activist work, as well as opportunities to shift institutional expectations" (p. 22). We are interested in furthering this work through a consideration of Indigenous activist scholarship (Zavala, 2013), particularly as highlighted in Josh's work in his own community in Mexico. At the same time, and building on the ref lexive nature of working with participatory video (see Yang, 2012), we seize the platform of a research article to engage in a complex blending of both different perspectives / standpoints and self-ref lexivity about our work with participatory video, and, in so doing, set up a critical dialogue of sorts. What can we learn as we engage in this "tale of two sites"? How are digital platforms central to this work? What are some of the tensions, particularly in relation to what counts as activism in this work? In the first section Claudia ref lects on her work with cellphones in rural South Africa, focusing on one cellphilm, Village Gathering. In the second section of the article, we offer Josh's account from his work as an "insider" using participatory video in his grandfather's village in Mexico. We then go on to consider some of the implications of this work for research in two key areas of social research informed by culture, tradition, and intergenerationality: (1) youth and sexuality in the age of AIDS in South Africa, and (2) language revitalization in Mexico. …

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