Who Is Going Public? Ethical Perspectives through a Decolonizing Framework

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 09:00
Oral Presentation
Naydene DE LANGE, Nelson Mandela University, South Africa
Who is Going Public? Ethical Perspectives Through a Decolonizing Framework

Ndlovu-Gatsheni (2017, line 106), in the context of decolonising research, argues that researchers should reposition “those who have been objects of research into questioners, critics, theorists, knowers, and communicators” in the research. Participatory visual researchers have been contributing to such a repositioning through close scrutiny of and sensitivity to the underlying ontological, epistemological, methodological, and axiological philosophical underpinnings and practice of participatory visual research, endeavouring to work with participants in co-producing knowledge, co-analysing knowledge produced, and co-presenting the findings emanating from their own insider knowledge to not only other researchers, but also to policy makers and members of their own communities. As such participatory visual research intends to open up spaces for dialogue towards deepening an understanding of the issue under study and enabling action for social change. As researchers have come a long way in persuading university ethics boards to ‘allow’ us to do participatory visual research, a further challenge arises when the participants who are the co-producers and owners of the knowledge want to represent themselves and share the knowledge they produced publicly.

In this paper I ask, “who is going public?”, “who is allowed to go public?” and who “allows the going public?” It is at this “going public” juncture that ethics seem to place boundaries on participants’ sharing their work publicly, drawing on constructs such as consent, anonymity and confidentiality in gatekeeping the participants from sharing their work. I argue that the philosophical underpinning and practice of research ethics have not yet transformed sufficiently to address the issue of ethics in participatory visual research. In this presentation I explore the concepts of consent, anonymity and confidentiality - through using examples from our participatory visual work with youth in South Africa.