Thesis title: A Window to Insider Knowledge: Movie making as praxis in critical pedagogy


Thesis abstract

This research project is a study of the viability of movie making as praxis in critical pedagogy. By using video as both the action element and analytical material of praxis, youth participants living at the margins of global society generated subjective knowledge and meanings, and developed a new critical awareness, engendered by themes arising from group discussion following the principles of critical pedagogy. The study is positioned within a critical theory paradigm and employs a dual design framework of inquiry. A case study and a dialogical narrative analysis are used to answer the research questions underlying each research objective, all of which are directed toward showing evidence of viability. Such a dual design framework allows the study to address both etic and emic issues. Through the progressive use of generative themes—learning topics that are generated in context through group discourse—participants achieved an emergence from their objective-problematic situations, which they were able to clearly articulate. This emergence is discussed in the context of conscientization, the desired outcome of critical pedagogy, which is operationalized through an analytical framework developed for this research project.

The study argues that movie making has a particular suitability as praxis in critical pedagogy because it creates the conditions for conscientization through the use of storytelling as the action-element of critical learning. It is a distinct form of praxis with its own parameters and limitations, yet it can be organized and expressed pedagogically in a way that remains faithful to principle and theory. Many of the methods of video-based engagement are borrowed from the practice of participatory video, a method that influenced the praxis in this study. During eleven months of fieldwork at two sites in Nepal—Kapan, on the outskirts of Kathmandu, and Godamchaur, a village in nearby Lalitpur district—over twenty project participants produced sixteen movies. Led by two critical educators trained in the educational theories of Paulo Freire, the participants engaged in the production, screening, and analysis of their movies, which in turn propelled the praxis forward and resulted in their emergence. The study seeks to inform the practice of critical pedagogy both practically and theoretically, and also has much to offer the practice of participatory development communication and communication for social change. The thesis concludes with a discussion of the impacts conscientization had among all the participants involved, including the researcher.

Life after PhD:

After handing in his PhD, Grady took a Postdoctoral Research Associate position at the University of Reading on a project supporting climate-resistant infrastructure and livelihoods in East Africa.