We explore how visual and digital methodologies, combined with a participatory approach, allow for intimacy and public engagement. Research using participant-generated images may elicit emic narratives, disrupt power relationships, intervene in policy, and communicate with broader audiences.
Participatory visual methods are changing the way anthropologists forge new knowledge and interact with informants in the field, creating possibilities for intimate and public-engaged inquiry. This approach brings the visual and digital production process into a participatory action research (PAR) framework. Participatory visual methodologies include digital storytelling, PhotoVoice, participatory video, and visual archival research, among others. These methodologies produce rich visual and narrative data, but also open other paths to a 'shared anthropology', guided by participant interests and priorities, putting the methods literally in the hands of the participants themselves. This approach appeals to wide and diverse audiences, deploying knowledge beyond the academy. It also allows to produce knowledge in more sensitive or sensory domains where verbalization might be more difficult (ethnicity, human rights, risk, climate change, etc.). This panel asks, "How can participants use images to render invisible issues visible?" and "What do we gain from taking a participatory approach?" It showcases researchers who are using these methods on the ground in diverse applications and projects. At the same time, the greater intimacy that these methods allow and the possibilities for communicating to a wider range of interlocutors raises new ethical and methodological questions. Each research project proposes innovative strategies for dealing with this complex quest. Topics for discussion include research ethics and community partnerships; the study of visual and sensory experience; the use of images in advocacy and policy making; indigenous media; and integrating participation throughout the research process.