Young South Africans, disposable cameras and "My Future": Ethical evaluations and photographic research
Oliver Pattenden (Rhodes University)
Paper short abstract:
Young South Africans used disposable cameras as part of a collaborative project entitled “My Future”, which focused upon representations of moral stances and ethical evaluations. The paper details the project in the context of relations of power and trust between the researcher and collaborators.
Paper long abstract:
My doctoral research considers historical and ongoing ethical contestation relating to education and schooling in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. The majority of my fieldwork has been conducted in and around a 'special school' that is registered to cater for learners adjudged to have 'extrinsic barriers to learning'. Broadly speaking, these barriers relate to moral evaluations of socioeconomic deprivation, sexual and domestic violence, parental death and detachment, and drug and alcohol use. As part of a collaborative project entitled "My Future", approximately sixty of my young collaborators used disposable cameras to produce representations of their own moral stances and ethical evaluations. Additionally, I viewed and discussed each resultant image with its creator. Having briefly explained the methods employed, this paper considers three interrelated areas of concern. Firstly, how the photos and accompanying explanations provide insight to learners' moral stances and ethical evaluations. Secondly, how the images and discussions are intelligible within the context of the ethnographic research more broadly. Thirdly, how my involvement in the photographic project and my own enthusiasm for certain themes of inquiry influenced the kinds of representations found in the images and descriptions. In the concluding remarks, I consider how relations of power and trust between the researcher and his collaborators were central to the practices of self-representation.
Appropriating Photography: Global Technologies and Local Politics of Self-Representation