371.3 Problematizing participatory video with youth in Canada: A critical disruptive praxis?

Thursday, August 2, 2012: 2:50 PM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Matthew ROGERS , Education, University of New Brunswick, Canada., Fredericton, NB, Canada
As part of my graduate research, I coordinated a participatory video (PV) project with students in an alternative education program in New Brunswick, Canada. The project was intended to encourage students to explore PV as a way to shed light on issues of violence in the lives of youth, raise public conversations, and thereby promote social change. Students engaged in script writing and all aspects of the filmmaking process. Together, they produced seven short films on issues of violence, collectively titled Candle in the Dark. The film premiered to a large audience of educators, administrators and policy makers. In the local school district, the project has been celebrated and constructed as “therapeutic” for those students involved. In my research, I critically analyzed the project, its outcomes and the discourses that surfaced. I highlighted similar questions and concerns as those raised by the ISA panel organizers. Employing critical discourse analysis and drawing on scholars such as Foucault, Lather, Giroux and Kincheloe, this paper problematizes the celebratory construction of our project as emancipatory for the participants involved. This paper highlights how, while our project was publicly hailed as “life-changing” for the students, it tacitly reinforced power relations around gender, class, sexuality, race and ability. Further, the paper troubles the individualizing, deficit, therapeutic and at-risk discourses which surfaced in, and circulated around, the project. The paper raises three questions about PV: in hindsight one can raise critical questions about any PV project, but how do we raise concerns within a context of a project without diminishing the agency of participants; if participation is the guiding principle, how do we strike a balance that allows us to direct a project to reflect a more critical approach without imposing authoritative control; and finally, What ethical considerations are paramount when engaging in PV with youth?