A new open-access paper on “The Epistemological and Ethical Value of Autophotography for Mobilities Research in Transcultural Contexts” is now available online. This paper is co-authored by Geography and Tourism Studies professor, Dr. David Butz.
This article responds to calls from mobilities scholars for methodological innovation and reflexivity by (a) detailing our use of autophotography in a study of the everyday implications of a newly-constructed road for a small community in mountainous northern Pakistan, and (b) assessing autophotography’s attributes as a visual/narrative method for mobilities research in that setting, on ethical and epistemological grounds. We demonstrate that autophotography’s anti-objectivist epistemology of vision and participant-driven character, the portability and easy user-interface of compact cameras, and the inseparable mix of visual and narrative data the method produces, combined to attenuate epistemic injustice in our research, while also generating productive insights regarding the movements, representations and embodied practices our research subjects associate with the road. These points are developed with reference to literature on visual methods, mobile methods and subaltern autoethnography, as well as to the visual/narrative representations produced by study participants. The article concludes by exemplifying how research subjects used the road and its associated mobilities as discursive resources for the constitution of collective identity: to position their community in relation to modernity and tradition, to distinguish the community from its neighbours, and to articulate worries about the consequences of rapid social change.