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In dialogue with research collaborators and the public: Reflexive audio-visual ethnography and dilemmas of production and dissemination
(University of Johannesburg)
Paper short abstract:
Audio-visual techniques can enhance reflexivity, and support disseminating insights to wider audiences, including research participants, spurring dialogue. But how does the wide circulation of reflexive research material affect researchers' and participants' power positions and vulnerabilities?
Paper long abstract:
One of the objectives for anthropologists to work with audio-visual materials, is that it facilitates for their insights to be disseminated beyond an academic, specialized public, reaching wider audiences, which includes not in the least their research participants, assistants, and other collaborators or counterparts they work with. Furthermore, audio-visual methods can be employed to boost researchers' reflexive awareness and engagement, facilitated for example by multimodal entries into their data and research processes, but also by the reactions of their academic and non-academic public (including research participants) on the disseminated analyses and conclusions. What practical and ethical questions does this raise, especially as it affects the power positions and vulnerabilities of both researcher and research participants? I will engage with these questions drawing on ethnographic research that I have been involved in for the past ten years in Tanzanian Maasailand. In this research, I have combined traditional research methods with reflexive ethnographic and documentary filmmaking, increasingly using a dialogic approach. Visiting and revisiting Maasai and Dutch tourists for over a decade, the camera has come to facilitate for conversations between them, and myself as a researcher. Lately, using handycams and WhatsApp has extended the collaborative possibilities for data collection, dialogues and reflections, while internet and social media continue to exponentially expand the dissemination of anything produced. As developments take place faster than their effects can be overseen, this also raises questions about the transformative potentials and effects of doing research, about ownership and sharing of materials, trust, care, responsibilities and freedom.
Languages of entanglement: mapping the ethnographic modes and media