Ethics and Strategies in Children’s Participatory Mapping of Space and Time

Authors: Emily Kaufman*, University of Kentucky
Topics: Qualitative Methods, Social Geography, Political Geography
Keywords: qualitative methods, visual methods, policing, children, children's geography, care, arts-based research, participatory research
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/3/2019
Start / End Time: 12:40 PM / 2:20 PM
Room: Senate Room, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


If “visual art can propel people into seeing something differently” (Leavy 2015: 228), then as researchers, we can apply this “aesthetic intervention” (hooks 1995) to the co-production, analysis, and dissemination of visual materials. Working with children ages 4—14 to investigate the everyday violence of biospatial policing (Kaufman 2016), we collaborate to produce a range of visual materials. Methods include unprompted sketching, cognitive mapping, and comic-creation, guided by the ‘maker movement approach’ (Compton and Thompson 2018); children map their experiences in space and time (Dittmer 2010: 222). Materials generate conversations between subject and researcher; if disseminated, they may “broadcast pressing social messages in irrefutable ways,” and project children’s voices into realms they are scarcely heard in (Mitchell et al. 2011: 26).
Challenges include resistance to art-making by underserved and overdisciplined children (“I’m bad at it” “My art teacher puts me in time out” “if I want to express myself I play videogames”) despite reassurances that content, not artistry matters (Mitchell et al. 2011). While consent procedures mandate respect for refusal, how should we treat resistance based on self-doubt? How can visual methods be informed by an ethics of care (Lawson 2007; Puig de la Bellacasa 2017)? How might participatory art-making empower children under-represented in visual arts (hooks 1995)? This paper explores arts-based research practice, methods most effective in eliciting conversation or policy responses, the practice of care in fieldwork, and ensuing ethical and methodological dilemmas.

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