This working paper authored by Elsa Oliveira and Jo Vearey for the Migrating out of Poverty Research consortium explores the opportunities and challenges associated with visual research methodologies. The paper draws specifically on a MoVE (methods: visual: explore) project that explored the lived experiences of migrant groups in southern Africa, reflecting on practical experience of having conducted visual research. The paper argues that by using visual and narrative methods- as part of mixed methods studies- researchers gain an important opportunity to engage in the ‘feel’ of events and the lives of the participants. 

Caption: Body Map from 'Queer Crossings' project

These methods therefor, not only provide a creative platform whereby participants can be included in the production of knowledge but they also highlight to academic and participant researchers the subjectivity of knowledge and the role of power in its production. 

The piece grounds itself firmly in the pedagogy of Paulo Friere who recognised the importance of grassroots knowledge mobilisation and action over other less empowering approaches to knowledge that dominated community development. Much of what is said would be of interest to those practitioners who see engagement as part of knowledge production and are genuinely committed to understanding community perspectives and which hold social justice at their heart. 

The paper cautions against assuming that the methods themselves lead to empowerment but highlight the need to examine power relationships in their execution. To access the document please click here



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