Advancing the Value of Ethnography

Tutorial: Participatory Visual Research—Getting the Most from Collaborative Methods



Participatory visual research methods like Photovoice open up opportunities for collaborative sense-making and advocacy. In these methodologies, data and knowledge are produced not only as an end product, but also in process. As participant-researchers contribute to research design, ethical discussions, data collection, analysis, and presentation of results, they communicate users’ values and concerns that can inform better organizational practices and improve products and services.

In the first part of this workshop, you will learn about participatory visual research methods, from their foundations as methodology developed in the global South to promote the public’s “right to research” (Appadurai) to their application in a variety of organizational settings and design projects. In the second segment, you will take part in a hands-on Photovoice workshop exercise designed to open up questions of visual representation, ethics, and participation. In the final part of the workshop, we discuss how these methods might reframe our task relative to clients, and you will be guided in creating a personal roadmap for enhancing the collaborative and participatory features of visual modalities into your own practice.

Before the tutorial, participants were asked to complete a survey and smartphone photography exercise to generate material and data to work with during the session.


Krista Harper is Professor in the Department of Anthropology and the School of Public Policy at University of Massachusetts Amherst. Her research focuses on mobilizations related to the environment, food systems, and urban public space. She has used Photovoice in her community-based participatory research on these themes, with projects in Hungary, Portugal, and the United States, as well as in her research on the design of higher education libraries in the “Library Transformations” project. Harper has received multiple sponsored research awards from the National Science Foundation and Fulbright. She is co-author of Participatory Visual and Digital Methods (with Aline Gubrium, Left Coast Press 2013) and co-editor of Participatory Visual and Digital Research in Action (with Aline Gubrium and Marty Otañez, Left Coast Press 2015). Krista Harper and Brittni Howard are currently writing Essentials of Photovoice, to be published by Routledge in 2020.

This tutorial was conducted at EPIC2019 in Providence, Rhode Island.


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