Participatory - What Does It Mean?

Participatory Cinema - Participatory Video Under Consideration

Symposium 2012 - Saturday, May 12th to Tuesday, May 15th
at the Georg-August-University of Göttingen funded by VolkswagenStiftung


In Anthropology as much as in Media Studies the methods of “Participatory Cinema” and “Participatory Video” are often used and discussed. Although having common characteristics, both terms, however, originate from different intellectual backgrounds. David MacDougall (1975) created the term “Participatory Cinema” to differentiate it from “Observational Cinema” then used in a positivistic sense. In contrast, “Participatory Video” was introduced in the context of participative projects in the 1990s (White et al. 1994, 2003; Braden 1998), before Nick and Chris Lunch professionalized the concept and founded an interdisciplinary platform in the internet (2004, 2006).
Discussions at many international conferences, however, show that there is a lack of understanding and defining clarity about what “participatory” really means. Other terms used in this context are “shared anthropology” (Jean Rouch), “digital story-telling” and “community-based filming”.
During the symposium theoretical and methodological implications of the different concepts as well as practical cases of their application were presented. As “co-operation” is a crucial aspect in these concepts and projects, in some cases two presenting participants had been invited. The keynote papers were deepend in panel discussions whereas the papers concerning practical cases were discussed by junior academics. Their reviews of the presentation are listed under "Discussions."
The symposium was organised by Prof. Dr. Roman Loimeier (University of Göttingen), Dr. Beate Engelbrecht (University of Göttingen and Förderinitiative Visuelle Ethnographie e.V. (FIVE), Prof. Dr. Peter Crawford (Intervention Press) and Prof. Dr. Kevin Thomspon (University of Florida, Gainsville). The organisers express their gratitude towards Volkswagen Foundation (Volkswagen Stiftung) who funded the symposium.