Zurich Writers Resist, 16 January, 18-20hr, Cabaret Voltaire

Writers in more than 80 cities on three continents are organizing independent Writers Resist events on January 15th and 16th. Here in Zurich, international and local writers will gather on January 16th, Martin Luther King Day, for an evening of pivotal readings that affirm our commitment to a diverse, compassionate, and healthy world in increasingly authoritarian times. The event will be held in the historic home of the DADA movement, the Cabaret Voltaire. The program includes Irish, American, Scottish and Swiss writers such as novelists Bettina Spoerri, Anne Korkeakivi and Jason Donald and poets Andrew Shields, Darcy Alexandra and Padraig Rooney.

16 November: ‘On the Borders of Listening: Visualizing Voice and Implicating Practice in Collaborative, Multimedia Ethnography’

American Anthropological Association, San Francisco, USA

October 10th: ‘Thinking with and through image and voice — Participatory visual ethnography with migrants in Ireland’

I will present at the University of Lucerne in Lucerne, Switzerland.

September 7th: ‘Un retrato audio-visual del asilo: Vivencias construidas desde la imagen y la palabra’

I will be presenting my research on the panel, ‘Migrations, memories of exile and diasporas: tracing the boundaries of memory,’ at the International Oral History Association Conference, 4-7 September, 2012 in Buenos Aires, Argentina

June 7th: Digital Storytelling Festival Cardiff

During my presentation at the Digital Storytelling Festival in Cardiff, I wanted to get the audience thinking about collaborative media production as a form of inquiry. I focused on the challenges of “visualizing voice” in digital storytelling. Drawing from my research with undocumented migrants and asylum seekers in Ireland, I discussed how, due to vulnerable circumstances, several storytellers could not be physically visible in their stories. Other participants had limited family photos. From these challenges a collaborative visual ethnographic practice emerged. In this practice, storytellers crafted their experiences into story over an extended period of time (4-6 months) and created evocative images. In so doing, they documented their daily lives, literally “objectified” a lived experience, and critically engaged in the research process. To get the audience thinking about this inquiry process, I played audio clips from two stories and asked folks to consider the sensory responses and possible images for each. Next, I shared the photographs that research participants had created–their drafts and final versions–and discussed how, as media practitioners, participants developed a critical understanding of images not merely as a means to illustrate a story, but rather as a catalyst for exploring and documenting experience, memory and place. I then screened the two final digital stories. As a way of engaging the audience as listeners, at the end of each story, I asked people to write a post card reply to the storytellers. During the Q & A, audience members asked compelling questions about pedagogy, longitudinal vs. intensive 1-5-day workshops, reception and distribution of the stories, and ethical concerns, such as how to get beyond the “tokenisitic” use of stories.

Keynote speakers at the festival included Annie Correal from Cowbird, Natasha Armstrong from Historypin and Joe Lambert from the Center for Digital Storytelling (CDS). Annie Correal shared how her experience as a journalist, and the international response to her story about the kidnapping of her father, led to her passion for “humanizing the web.” Through Cowbird’s elegant storytelling platform, stories have a life online. Natasha Armstrong directed a tour de force through their interactive website, which integrates stories and photographs, families and neighborhoods across generations and locales. Finally, Joe Lambert confirmed an on-going commitment to the importance and power of listening. He screened several stories from workshops including a beautifully crafted story that was edited on, and streamed from an iPhone. When I later learned more about the workshop process and how these iPhone stories were created, I began to wonder if that story marked a watershed moment for the ways in which we will be facilitating digital storytelling workshops from now on. Thus far, the dominant paradigm has been for storytellers to start with the written story. Starting with a written script has most often lead to an illustrative engagement with the visual, rather than any deep exploration of visual storytelling methods through an image making practice. In contrast, that iPhone story seemingly began with the image making process first, with the storyteller visually exploring her environment and then bringing those images into the storytelling circle. Workshop participants developing stories in relation to images found through the lens of an iPhone marks a paradigm shift, one provoked by the introduction of a new tool.

In the evening, Lisa Heledd Jones hosted an inspiring and moving evening of story sharing with local storytellers, writers, musicians and performers. Thanks to the University of Glamorgan, the George Ewart Evans Centre for Storytelling and the Arts Council of Wales for organizing a thought-provoking and fun festival.


May 15th: ‘Encountering “Other” Stories through Collaborative Research Practice’

socialweekend.com Together with Dr. Alice Feldman I will be presenting a paper–Encountering “Other” Stories through Collaborative Research Practice–on May 15th, 2012 at the Storytelling: Global Reflections on Narrative conference in Prague. Our paper is based on the longitudinal digital storytelling workshop I directed and facilitated with Irish and immigrant participants in north Dublin as a part of the Voicing Places/Placing Voices research project.