143.3 Photovoice as activism

Wednesday, August 1, 2012: 12:54 PM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Tobias ANDREASSON , Social Work, University of Western Sydney, Milperra, Australia
A major social justice issue in the ‘Western’ world today is the alienation of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees. For the academic researcher it is an issue that cannot be approach in an objective, or purely theoretical way, since the mere act of recognizing that alienation is taking place is political and requires social action. Visual sociology is a particular useful approach to explore how this alienation, which is a lack of belonging, is experienced but also to show how different types of belonging are constructed and maintained by those who are alienated. My current work focuses on the phenomenology of belonging for men with a refugee background in Australia. As a postcolonial country Australia has been struggling with how to approach asylum seekers and refugees. It has been a ‘hot’ political topic for a long time and it has exposed what Ghassan Hage calls a ‘paranoid nationalism’ not dissimilar to many other ‘Western’ countries, which has reinforced certain barriers to belonging. Because alienation, or a lack of belonging, is exasperated when you are devalued and misrecognized, I will argue it is crucial to employ a participatory approach that both values and recognizes the participants and their experiences. As a professional photographer who has stepped into the academic world I will discuss how ‘photovoice’, a participatory action research method, can provide research participants with a voice and an opportunity to tell counter hegemonic narratives about belonging and alienation. This presentation will provide an insight into this experience and how visual sociology can be combined with participatory action research to become a tool for visual participatory activism.