Participatory Video and Empowerment: The Role of Participatory Video in Enhancing the Political Capability of Grass-roots Communities in Participatory Development

By Anna Colom - Keynote speaker

This paper explores the potential of Participatory Video (PV) in enhancing the political capabilities of oppressed communities. PV works as a catalyst for groups to develop the power to interact and influence those bodies and institutions with power over. PV does so by supporting the creation of a Freirean dialogical process within the community, which leads to collective action. Video breaks the illiteracy barrier and facilitates the access to the institutional and political framework.
For this process to happen, though, PV activities need to take into account the power relations (both between stakeholders and within the community) and need to be catalysed by a facilitator that is ready to be a co-learner of the process and aware of the local dynamics. This paper concludes that PV has indeed a great potential but that, as a one-time activity, the political spaces cannot be maintained over long term. Instead, it is analysed whether permanent models of PV are able to maintain these outcomes. By analysing the case study of the Community Video Unit Samvad, in India, it is argued that, when made permanent, PV has a strong capacity to empower communities. The paper nevertheless highlights that any long-term implementation strategies for PV need to consider three main challenges: sustainability, ownership and the definition of community.


Formerly a journalist, Anna Colom holds an MSc in Development Studies from SOAS. She has been trained by the European Social Documentary (ESODOC) on Participatory Video (PV) facilitation and conducted research on PV and Community Video in Ahmedabad (India). Anna has been working as an independent consultant both with international NGOs and academic institutions as a documentary filmmaker, video facilitator and researcher. She currently works as a Research Officer at BBC Media Action.

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