Whose Consent Matters Most? Ethical Dilemmas on Public Display of Participatory Visual Images Produced By Teenage Mothers in a Low-Income Urban Context in Nairobi, Kenya

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 18:10
Oral Presentation
Milka NYARIRO, Department of Integrated Studies in Education, McGill University, Canada
This presentation will explore some of the ethical dilemmas in doing participatory visual research in negotiating consent on public dissemination of visual products by teenage mothers in an informal urban context in Nairobi, Kenya. Participatory visual studies have recently been adapted by researchers working with excluded groups of population living in marginalized areas. Participatory visual research is a collaborative process which is anchored on a feminist framework to promote collaboration between the researchers and participants, and give participants more control of the research process and emancipation due to the collective processes engaged by participants who have similar lived experience. Participants’ conceptualization of a common problem, creation of symbolic representations through visual images, and public displays of the visual images to a wider public to initiate a community conversation are the key principles of participatory visual research. Participatory research helps to bring to the centre the voices of marginalized participants such as excluded girls and women in order to stimulate their agency for social transformation of their situations and that of others within their communities. However, public display of images created by participants in general, and those created by minors in particular can create ethical dilemmas that require both participant and researcher reflexivity. How can participants and researchers strike a balance on what images to display, to whom, and where in order to uphold the principle of least harm and at the same time, taking caution not to silence the very voices that the research seeks to bring to fore and centre? What are the ethical implications of the researcher representing the visual images produced by participants versus participants representing their own visual productions? How as researchers do we navigate this tricky terrain with Research Ethics Boards?