Documentary photography and indigenous knowledge: some methodological challenges



Photography, Film & Multimedia


  • indigenous design, cultural influence

The paper focuses on the role that documentary photographs may play in indigenous knowledge research. Visual methods, or qualitative research where visual images play an integral part of the study design, have the advantage that power imbalances between the researcher and the study population are typically low in comparison to more conservative research designs, especially when the visual material is produced by the members of the study population themselves.

The paper specifically discusses methodological aspects of scenarios where

  1. the researcher that produces he documentary images is an outsider to the study population and there is researcher reactivity,
  2. the images are produced by members of the study population after receiving training and the creative possibilities of the photographic medium interfere with the accuracy and reliability of the visual data collected, and
  3. documentary images are used as a prompting device during interviews in a study population with low levels of visual literacy.

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