371.4 Participatory video, knowledge production and power in a South African shack settlement

Thursday, August 2, 2012: 3:00 PM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Shannon WALSH , South African Research Chair in Social Change, University of Johannesburg, South Africa
Participatory video allows us to reflect, together, on the situation we are in and that surrounds us. Using participatory video can be a way to reflect on power, positioning and who controls knowledge, using our own position in the everyday world as a starting place. In this paper I explore issues around knowledge and power that emerged through video workshops with youth in a shack settlement in Durban, South Africa. I argue that participatory video must not be dislodged from either the local contexts in which the work takes place or from a critical position around the pitfalls of ‘empowerment’ within conscientization. Specific to the project I discuss in this paper, issues around violence for girls must not be underestimated, and approaches to this work should include responsive strategies for dealing with difficult, and sometimes traumatic, experiences that may emerge in the process. I argue that we must not neglect the ways in which issues like AIDS, rape, and gender-based violence become normalized in some contexts, and thoughtful, inclusive strategies to help participants work through what comes up must be included within project planning.

How can we use these tools while resisting the ‘romance of community’ and seeing beyond short-term impacts towards a view to a longer-term project of positive transformation? How do we deal with the power issues that are inherently present as researchers? What are the ultimate goals?