Silence(ing), voice(s) and gross violations of human rights: constituting and performing subjectivities through PhotoPAR

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Abstract:

This article analyses selected micro-processes of 'taking pictures' and 'telling stories' in a participatory photography and action research process that was published as Voices and Images: Maya Ixil Women of Chajul. This collaboration was initiated by 20 rural Maya women and the author during the years immediately following the signing of peace accords that ended Guatemala's 36 years of civil war and genocide. They sought to create new spaces through which local Maya could embrace and re-signify traditions threatened through genocidal violence and perform emerging and multiple subjectivities as community organisers, educators and defenders of human rights. These performances reflect a situated polyvocality, challenging stable and essentialising gendered discourses of war and post-conflict peacemaking processes that 'other' Maya women. Drawing on field notes, memorias from project workshops, minutes from small group meetings and individual photovoices, the author analyses some of the complexities and contradictions in the iterative processes of developing photonarratives, problematising her performances as 'outsider' - that is, as human rights activist scholar - and interrogating her positionality and voice as 'missionary', 'monitor' and 'sister-in-solidarity'. She argues that local Maya women's and girls' voices emerged or were silenced in the production of a final set of 56 published photonarratives, and identifies some possibilities and limitations of photography and PAR as resources in human rights activism in post-conflict situations.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1472586X.2010.523276

Publication date: December 1, 2010

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