Saturday, December 4, 2010

From the Editor's desk: Esther Prins on participatory photography

Last of the new papers to be introduced from the upcoming ARJ, issue 8(4) ...

Esther Prins from The Pennsylvania State University writes about the use of participatory photography. Esther’s article examines the unanticipated problems the author and participants encountered when encouraging the stakeholders in their work to use photography as a way to represent their world. The surprise was at how much suspicion, timidity, and ridicule the practice engendered. This article elucidates how historical and socio-cultural factors structured learners’ and community residents’ responses to photography. Theoretically she draws on Foucault’s analysis of surveillance and power, to argue that photography is a technology with contradictory potential for social control and surveillance. This forms the basis for thinking trough how to recovery marginalized groups’ subjugated knowledge..

From the point of view of growing to scale, Esther’s work is also in the category of “how to do action research.” We may be surprised to learn that technology as “simple” as the camera (simple, that is, by the standards of the university based researcher) can evoke unanticipated reaction and consequences. True to the spirit of good inquiry, Esther makes lemonade from the lemons (how many, perhaps especially novice action researchers, might have simply slipped away?!). Beyond mere perseverance, Esther’s contribution to theory is helpful to the larger community. And from a practical standpoint, her work offers an opportunity for vicarious apprenticeship. Please find her work:

Warm regards,

Hilary Bradbury-Huang
Editor in Chief

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