Seeing Within, Without, Across and Between

Stories from Cross-Cultural Photographic Exchange




photovoice, participatory action research, visual research methods, environmental behaviour, multi-site ethnography


This paper discusses letters and photo-stories as sites for making strange our familiar relationships with the non-human world, through considering images and methods from the action-research project ‘Portraits of Change’, which explored environmental behaviour change and human/non-human relations through participatory visual dialogue between urban youth in Bangladesh, Australia and China.  In particular, it focuses on various themes arising in the exchange of letters and photo-stories created by students through workshops in Dhaka and Melbourne, and how these can both reinforce and challenge our ways of viewing the non-human world.  These themes, including health, aesthetics and visuality, also highlighted differing environmental perspectives between youth in majority and minority worlds.  The complexity of the multi-sited action-research engagements require methodological adaptations in both the participatory design of the workshops, and analysis of their resulting visual artifacts.

Author Biography

Michael Chew, Chulalongkorn University

Dr Michael Chew is a participatory action-researcher, photographer and environmentalist whose work explores creativity in social change. He draws from interdisciplinary perspectives with degrees in Participatory Design, Mathematical Physics, Social Theory, Art Photography and Social Ecology. He co-founded grassroots NGOs Friends of Kolkata, and Friends of Bangladesh to run international volunteer programmes and North-South solidarity work, and has run participatory storytelling projects across Asia. After completing a design-based action-research PhD in 2020 exploring how participatory photography can inspire youth environmental behaviour change across cities in Bangladesh, China and Australia, he currently undertaking a Rotary Peace Fellowship at Chulalongkorn University.