Researchers are increasingly called upon to integrate ‘innovative’ and ‘creative’ methods into their research designs. Within migration and border studies, visual methods are being used to better explore people’s experiences of migration and enable more participatory, collaborative, and inventive research. In this presentation, Dr Sarah Turnbull critically reflects on her failed attempt to incorporate visual methods in follow-up research on immigration detention and deportation in Britain. In particular, she considers the uses and limits of participant-generated visuals, and the specific method of photovoice, which were originally conceived as a means to explore themes of home, identity, and belonging in and through practices of detention and release or deportation. Drawing on the notion of research ‘failure,’ this presentation highlights the challenges and limitations of photovoice in follow-up research with individuals who were detained and/or deported, pointing to various methodological, logistical, ethical, and political issues pertaining to the method itself and the use of the visual in social science research.
About the speaker
Sarah Turnbull is Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology and Legal Studies at the University of Waterloo. Prior to joining the University of Waterloo, Sarah was Lecturer in Criminology in the School of Law at Birkbeck College, University of London. She is currently completing a research project examining immigration detention and deportation in the United Kingdom, with specific focus on the experiences of confinement and removal in relation to affective issues of home, belonging, and identity in contemporary Britain.