Community-Based Media Pedagogy and Production in a Globalized World: Documenting Transnational and Transitional Subjects, Self-Representations, and Spaces

In collaboration with Bronwen Low (McGill University) and Paula Salvio (University of New Hampshire) this SSHRC-funded study responds to the ways in which digital video is dramatically democratizing film and documentary production, opening up unprecedented possibilities for self-representation and political engagement through a multimodal medium, which brings together image, sound, and text. Despite the proliferation of community-based media programs, there has been very little critical and analytic attention paid to their pedagogies and the videos produced through them. This means that there is a lack of academic understanding of why these projects may or may not be of significance to the participants, and of what forms of teaching and learning are taken up in these spaces. As well, these projects are rarely examined in relation to each other and so there is no sustained comparative analysis of the methods and products of community media organizations in different contexts. In response to this lack, we will conduct a comparative study of sites for media production in major North American urban centres, each of which exhibits a particular commitment to documenting the stories of immigrants who are often socially, economically, and physically marginalized by systemic racism, poverty, forced migration, and the impacts of globalization.

Specifically, our study will focus on both the pedagogical processes participants engage in as they refine the art of storytelling and multimedia production, as well as the final narratives and media texts they produce. The research is empirical and conceptual, aiming to both gather data about community media projects and to re-conceptualize the idea of the “multicultural” in education. This data will be used to explore three central research themes: How do the media pedagogies and the stories they produce function as sites within which participants can negotiate the complexities of transnational locations (shaped by multiple languages, ethnicities, experiences, and knowledge traditions) and subjective spaces (the ongoing work of relating the self to the world), and how might these community-based programs inform our thinking about curricular relations (including both media and multicultural education) in schools?