Farmers as experts: Interpreting the “hidden” messages of participatory video across African contexts

Katherine A. Snyder, Beth Cullen, Juliet Braslow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Recent scholarship has contributed important insights into the political dynamics inherent in the process of making and showing participatory videos. As a research method and an instrument for social change, participatory video has both potential and limitations for overturning the power dynamics embedded within research and in development processes. This paper focuses on experiences of incorporating participatory video in land management projects in four countries in Africa. Along with other participatory methods, the videos represented an effort to include community perspectives and objectives into the research process. Analysis of participatory video has largely focused on examining the tensions and contradictions involved in the process of making participatory videos. There has been less focus on the content of the videos themselves and what it might suggest for empowerment, voice and representation. This paper attempts to address this gap by examining the implications of the narratives that emerge in five different videos. On the surface, the participants appear to repeat dominant national and global narratives about land degradation. However, the fact that farmers present themselves as experts on these topics and the ways in which they appropriate and reconfigure the dominant narratives, can be seen as an act of empowerment. In this way, they preclude the need for external intervention on how to manage their resources.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)779-787
Number of pages9
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019


  • Africa
  • empowerment
  • participation
  • participatory video

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development


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