“But who are you thinking of giving these cameras to?”: Reflections on Photovoice for Research Household Water Insecurity in Urban Brazil

Authors: Flavia Bonolo Dantas*, Texas A&M University, Wendy Jepson, Texas A&M University, Jader Santos, Universidade Federal do Ceará
Topics: Water Resources and Hydrology, Human-Environment Geography, Latin America
Keywords: household water insecurity, Brazil, urban, photovoice, research methods.
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Balcony A, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Photovoice is a social science method by which people can identify, represent, and visually describe their experience of a particular topic through pictures. Photovoice enables people to document their lives, promote critical dialogue about community issues, and, in some cases, reach policymakers in unconventional ways. As one researcher notes, photovoice provided “a way to literally see beyond colonial images of poverty and dystopia that characterize informal work in cities of the Global South.” While visual methods are not new to geography and participatory methods have gained purchase in the discipline, uptake of this method in political ecology and water research, in particular, is rather recent. Photovoice was adopted as a participatory methodology to better ascertain household water insecurity in urban Fortaleza, Brazil. The use of visual tools to narrate and represent everyday experiences allows researchers to encompass the multiple practices and relations that consolidate the hybrid provisioning systems and understand the meaning of water insecurity. This paper takes a reflective and critical stance to the implementation of photovoice and photo-elicitation, paying particular attention to participant-researcher relationship, emotional labor, negotiating complex lives of residents.

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