Universität Bielefeld

© Universität Bielefeld


Photovoice is a technique by which the taking of photographs or videos - usually by people who are disadvantaged, ignored, and/or discriminated against - becomes a means of both self-expression and personal and intellectual growth. In addition, participants essentially function as participatory action researchers, documenting conditions and problems in ways that can be used for community assessment and as a spur to policy makers and other officials to institute community change

(Rabinowitz, o.J.: o.S.).


by Mira Püschel and Leila Angod

Phase one of this digital exhibit comprises five student projects from the seminar „Decolonizing Educational Research,“ which was designed and taught by Dr. Leila Angod. The digital exhibit was launched together with a public version of the exhibit at Bielefeld University that aimed to spark reflection and conversation.

Phase two of this digital exhibit features three projects from Dr. Angod's subsequent course, „Decolonizing Universities and Schools: Race, Knowledge, and Ethics.“ This digital exhibit is accompanied by a campus #DecolonialWalk; stickers posted in the areas of the university where the photos were taken direct people to students' analyses of that space using a QR code.

Both exhibits use PhotoVoice as a research method to inquire into how colonialism shapes students' social worlds, and draws on course readings and discussions to build our analyses. These projects centre students as experts of their social worlds, their knowledge as real and valued, and their research as an important part of knowledge production at the university. The projects address a range of different topics, giving insight into and opening a debate on the multi-layered and multi-faceted notion of what it means to decolonize educational research, schools, universities, and other spaces where we learn who gets to be more human than others.

The first exhibit was our class's way of enacting and being in conversation with the key text that we studied in the first course: Decolonizing Educational Research by Leigh Patel (2016). The title of the public exhibition, „routinely and lovingly scrutinizing narratives“ (p. 89), is cited from Patel's book. This description of a pathway for pursuing a decolonizing practice is one that resonated with the class.

With the projects displayed here we wish to raise these three questions about teaching and learning in and beyond educational science within the German context:

  • Under what circumstances is knowledge produced?
  • Who has the authority to produce knowledge?
  • Which types of knowledge production exist, which are acceptable, and under what terms?

We hope to enliven these questions within the spaces where we live and move, in particular our faculty and university.

The exhibition is a cooperation of the course participants and the Fachschaft Erziehungs-wissenschaft. It takes place as part of the series of events „(Un)Möglichkeiten der Hochschulbildung?“ („[Im]Possibilities of Higher Education“) of the Fachschaft Erziehungs-wissenschaft. We thank the Office of the Dean and the Faculty of Educational Science for supporting this exhibit and making it possible to open these conversations at a faculty level and beyond.

[...] we strained against the pervasive lie that there can be any knowledge or pursuit of knowledge devoid of context, power, and material impact

(Patel, 2016: x).

  • El-Tayeb, Fatima (1999): „Blood Is a Very Special Juice“: Racialized Bodies and Citizenship in Twentieth-Century Germany. International Review of Social History, 44(S7), 149-169.
  • Patel, Leigh (2016): Decolonizing educational research. Series in critical narrative. New York: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.
  • Rabinowitz, Phil (o.J.): Section 20. Implementing Photovoice in Your Community. [online: https://ctb.ku.edu/en/table-of-contents/assessment/assessing-community-needs-and-resources/photovoice/main].