Accepted Paper:

Epistemological implications of collaborative photography methodology, in the case of ethnographic research in Nueva Germania, Paraguay  
Jonatan Kurzwelly (University of Goettingen)

Paper short abstract:

Researcher insights on the use of collaborative photography and its epistemological implications, during long-term ethnographic fieldwork in Nueva Germania, Paraguay.

Paper long abstract:

Do anthropological training and theoretical orientation condition researchers' experiential bias, influencing perceptions and observations, in a similar fashion as the linguistic structures described by Whorf (1956) do? If we make such assumption, then collaborative methodology seems to be a great approach to enrich research with multiple perspectives and thereby reduce the bias. Additionally, collaborative visual methods allow for a shift in the power balance of data and knowledge production, and recognize the people in their capacity to be their own ethnographers, historians, documentarists and analysts. Images also facilitate an additional medium of expression and communication besides language. I will discus these issues in the context of my 18 months ethnographic research in Nueva Germania, Paraguay.

Nueva Germania was founded at the end of XIX century by Bernhard Förster and Elisabeth Nietzsche (Friedrich Nietzsche's sister), as an eugenic experiment in the wilderness of Paraguay. Fourteen German families traveled to Paraguay to take part in the creation of a racially pure colony, the intended nucleus of a new Germanic Empire. However, this ideological undertaking was quickly abandoned. Currently the inhabitants are divided into Germans and Paraguayans, with divisions drawn by history, descent, language, religion, etc. The colony has been repeatedly portrayed by journalists and other outsiders in harmful sensationalist accounts, through the prism of the foundational history. In order to facilitate a possibility of telling their own stories to the inhabitants, and reduce the bias of my theoretical interests, I have used the research method of participatory photography. This paper will reflect upon the methodology, its practical and epistemological implications and outcomes.

Panel P007
Producing and transmitting knowledge audio- and/or visually [VANEASA]