“We grew as we grew”: visual methods, social change and collective learning over time

  • S Walsh
Keywords: AIDS, Atlantis, HIV prevention, Khayelitsha, longitudinal research, memory, participation, Rondebosch, social change, South Africa, visual methods


Educational research using visual methods has the power to transform the society in which we live and the communities in which we work. We must not naïvely imagine that having the desire to make change in people’s lives will mean that it will happen, as sometimes there may be surprising, unintended negative repercussions as well. Other constraints, such as structural violence and institutional racism, can also intersect with the possibility of making tangible change through educational research using visual methods. Qualitative assessment with a longitudinal approach
is one approach that can reveal both the impact, and the limitations, of educational research on social change. I discuss these issues through grounded examples from an HIV educational project that used visual methodologies with a group of youths in Cape Town, South Africa over a number of years. Almost ten years later we interviewed three of the former participants about what impact the work has had on their lives. Each has travelled a different journey and been faced with different constraints
that have implications for the effectiveness of such work. Where are they now, and as adults, what do they have to say about the visual  methodologies, memory, and social change?

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2076-3433
print ISSN: 0256-0100