Through ethnographic fieldwork and participatory video, I explore the production and mobilization of historical narratives in ‘post-conflict’ Guatemala. More specifically, I focus on the relation between narrativity and political action in indigenous victim-survivor communities in the Cobán region of the Alta Verapaz Department. During my PhD trajectory I gradually developed a participative, filmmaking-based methodology resulting in a performative ethnography of a community filmmaking process.
For the last three years I have been working with the community of Copal AA La Esperanza, a community of 'returnees' threatened by the construction of a hydroelectric dam on its territory. The possible costruction of this dam has opened a discursive space where collective historical narratives are being (re-)negotiated to make land claims and demand historical justice.
Together with Julie Schiltz and Maarten Hendriks, who also experiment with participatory video methods in their research projects, I am the founder of the international Participatory Video Festival (PVF). The festival’s first edition (8-11 May, Ghent) was the beginning of a growing international PV::NETWORK and an established visual and participatory methods tradition at Ghent University. The aim of PVF is to explore the possibilities and value of participatory video for social sciences and to learn from the most innovative and relevant video-using trends in- and outside academia; in participatory action research, visual ethnography, visual arts, activism, advocacy work and so on.