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close this bookRecording and Using Indigenous Knowledge: A Manual (IIRR, 1996, 211 p.)
close this folderPart 2 Recording and assessment methodologies
close this folderAudio-visual media
View the documentCassette documentation
View the documentParticipatory video
View the documentPhoto/slide documentation

Participatory video


A method of video documentation which engages local people as camera operators and directors.


To find and document IK from the insiders' point of view and then prompt discussion and raise awareness using the videotape output as a focal point.


- Video camera
- Microphone
- Video tape
- Batteries and power source
- Artificial light source
- Television or video monitor
- Cables


Buy, borrow or rent?

Participator video does not necessarily require substantial investment. Hand-held video cameras, which arc becoming more and more common, are ideal. Maybe you can borrow or rent.


Easy editing

Remember the principal audience for participatory videos is the people who make them. Don't fret too much over production quality But, if a community wishes to share its video with other communities, very rough or unnecessarily long scenes can be easily removed or shortened. Just hook your camcorder to a video cassette recorder and transfer only valuable material to a fresh tape. To ensure that you don't cut valuable material, ask community members to supervise your editing. Better yet, teach them to do it themselves.

Possible approach

Train a selected group of community members—men, women, young, and old—in basic video production, especially camera operation. The rudiments can be taught very quickly—in a matter of minutes— right in the community.

Have community members discuss a theme for their video, such as food preservation and storage, or local farm implements. This discussion can be facilitated by the "outsider."

Community members record footage of what they want to document and share. In so doing, they record information—spoken and visual— that they wish to emphasize, highlighting their point of view.

View the video with the group. Make a mental note of the images that were selected and listen for comments which can be brought up later in discussion.

Initiate a group discussion on the topics covered in the video. (Gee Group discussion and Village workshop for ideas on how to do this.)

Leave a copy of the tape with the community,


Participatory video:

- allows insiders to tell their own story.

- encourages rapport.

- can serve as a focal point for in-depth discussion of indigenous knowledge, technologies, practices, and beliefs.

- can raise awareness of IK and foster pride in the local ways.

- can lead to improvements in IK.

- puts illiterate insiders on a more equatable footing with literate outsiders.

- can be entertaining and thus attract participants. can help outsiders find valuable IK.

- can lead to the sharing of knowledge and know-how.

Dos and don'ts

Do allow community members to shoot whatever they choose. Do let many community members become involved in order to provide several different perspectives from within the community. Don't persuade or dissuade them from taking certain shots.


You can also produce video programs on IK for training or broadcast. Such programs typically require careful preparation and scripting: they also need more equipment than most organizations have.

One way of producing a video program cheaply is to ask a local video store (the type that usually shoot videos at weddings) to help you. Develop a scripts and list of shots you will need (see the section on Photo/slide documentation for hints on the steps to follow). eke the video team with you and tell them what you want to shoot (make sure they use a tripod to hold the camera steady!). Then work with the team to edit the footage into a finished program.

Note that video for broadcast may have to be higher quality than most hand-held cameras can provide. Contact the local television station for details.

Compiled by Scott A. Killough and David G. Abbats
Reference For A listing of films on and by indigenous peoples, see TVE 1994.