One of the participating in the ‘AgKnowledge Africa’ Share Fair being held 18–21 at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, is Beth Cullen, an anthropology PhD researcher from Durham University (UK). Cullen undertook collaborative research with members of the Karrayyu Oromo pastoralist community for 18 months using participatory video methods. The Karrayyu community is in Ethiopia’s Awash Valley, in the Oromia Region (Fantalle Woreda, East Shoa).
‘The overall research approach falls under collaborative/engaged anthropology’, she explains. ‘Participatory video acted as a tool to engage participants as co-creators of knowledge, shifting the power dynamics of knowledge creation away from purely researcher driven enquiry.’
Participants became skilled in a short space of time, despite the fact that none of them had ever used a camera before, and they successfully planned, filmed and edited ten short films. The participatory video process enabled research participants to record, analyze and present their views on issues that affect them and enabled them to direct the research process. This helped assure the participants that the research and research results are of use to them as well as the scientists.
The Karrayyu Oromo are a relatively unknown group, both within and outside Ethiopia. They face a transition from pastoralism to agriculture in the near future, which will greatly effect their culture and traditional livelihoods.
Cullen believes that ‘participatory video enabled community members to document their way of life for future generations and provided the Karrayyu with a way of informing outsiders about their way of life, culture and knowledge. The participatory video work taught community members a skill that they recognize and value. This made a significant difference to the research process and was particularly important for a community suffering from “research fatigue”.’
Look for pictures capturing the process at ILRI’s InfoCentre throughout the week. And you can meet Cullen herself in the InfoCentre on Thursday, 14 October 2010, from 10.30 to 12.00, as she shows a short film, ‘Karrayyu fi Horii’ (‘Karrayyu and Animals’), made by the community and showing how important animals are to the Karrayyu. Cullen and her Ethiopian colleagues will be sharing their experiences in various sessions of the Share Fair.
Read more about the AgKnowledge Africa Share Fair.