AUDIOvisual sociology, participation and migrations. An hypothesis of a shift of power
Dipartimento di Sociologia Università degli studi di Padova Italy, http://www.zalab.tv
The basic assumption of this paper is that an (audio)visual and participatory research approach appears to be very well suited for the Ethnic and Migration Studies field.
That assumption will be illustrated through the comparison of two case studies.
1. Visual method has been widely used to study underprivileged people. Without falling into a naïf iconism, it´s possible to affirm that visual methods can overcome intercultural difficulties and linguistic incommensurability.
2. Participatory methods, meant as an explicit attempt to maximize the authorship of the researched, have been developed to try decrease the power differential between the ethnographer and the *ethnographied(s)* - or between the trainer and the trainees. They thus seems very appropriate for a power unbalanced situation.
3. I will develop my argumentations through comparing two case studies.
The first one, "Does Bologna Integrate?" was a participatory video process involving 12 students from Bologna University and 6 asylum seekers. Through an auto-narrative approach, we were willing to investigate the impact of an EU social integration project, integRARsi.
The second one "As Human Being and Citizens" was a dissemination video of Wave, an EU-funded research that investigated access to and perception of local welfare by immigrants. We discussed the research outcomes together with women from Romania and Nigeria, and filmed the discussion.
4. Through a year long process, "Does Bologna Integrate" provided a deep insight on asylums seeker´s perception about their daily life in Italy; on the other hand, it showed some limitations of participatory approaches, when carried out in formal and institutional settings.
5. "As Human Being and Citizens" was meant as a tool to discuss with persons that normally would not be reachable through University workshops; it has been something more. By a participative scriptwriting, research outcomes were re-hierarchized, and validated through a form of back-talk; and many issues not considered during the research came to light.