oa Indo-Pacific Journal of Phenomenology - Using photography as a means of phenomenological seeing : "doing phenomenology" with immigrant children

Volume 6 Number sed-1
  • ISSN : 1445-7377



The aim of the study presented in this paper was to understand the lifeworlds of children who experience immigration and whose lives are marked by dramatic changes in their being-in-the-world. More specifically, the study proceeded from the question: What does it mean for an immigrant child to enter school in a new country? Two methodological questions were also explored, namely (1) How does one conduct a phenomenological investigation of a childhood phenomenon when the researchers and the participants do not share a common language? and (2) How does one engage children in the research process so that they provide not only "thick" descriptions of their experiences using alternative, non-linguistic means, but also make meaning of these experiences? In the current study, still photography was used to help the immigrant children recall and make meaning of what they experienced on their first day of school in a new country. In the process, they were enabled to become conscious photographers who came to see the world in such a way that photographic seeing became phenomenological seeing. Two examples of the children's visual narratives in the form of fotonovelas are presented to illustrate a methodology that involves fusion of the horizons surrounding the children, captured images of situations they encountered as they entered the classroom, and how the viewer saw the created image. The expanded notion of text and the use of digital technology in developing the text opened a space not only for visual representation of the children's lived experiences, but also for phenomenological analysis of these experiences. It is suggested that, although the written and visual texts produced as a result of the study differ, they are similar in the way in which they allow for phenomenological reflection and in their ability to show the phenomenon so as to evoke the reader's "phenomenological nod".

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