Participatory Video: An Apparatus for Ethically Researching Literacy, Power and Embodiment

Publication Date


Document Type



This article describes participatory video, a method originated in documentary filmmaking and global development, and suggests it can be used to ethically study literacy, technology and embodiment. By putting the camera in the hands of participants, participatory video makes knowledge-making collaborative and empowers participants to tell their literacy histories on their own terms. Drawing on findings from a longitudinal study that investigated university students’ literacies across contexts, this article describes how two women of color used the camera rhetorically to redress racist incidents from their literacy histories and to protect themselves from the gaze of white audiences by using digital avatars. The study also found that the camera exerts its own agency and shapes what reality emerges. When used ethically, participatory video keeps the researcher accountable for their positionality, power, and privilege in the process of creating knowledge about literacy and embodiment.

Publication Title

Computers and Composition



Publisher Policy

pre print, post print (12 month embargo)

Open Access Status


This document is currently not available here.

Find in your library