This special issue seeks to examine the role of participation in visual methodologies. It is a collection of essays from members of the Visual Scholarship Initiative at Emory University in which practitioners reflect upon their uses of photography, film, and video as a form of practice-based research. Though the use of visual methods and technologies are integral to all of the projects here, our focus is in the range of participation between photographer, filmmaker, or curator and subject or audience and how this impacts what we understand as scholarship. The photograph, film, or video, then, is a means by which we enter into the social and cultural negotiations of and reflections upon meaning making. In this introduction, we attempt to clarify what we mean by participatory research. Such practices often result in crossing disciplinary boundaries, as we discuss below. Further, morphing the use of visual media into a category of research method that generates scholarship with others means we are also exploring various connections and intersections between public scholarship and socially engaged art. Instead of resolving or precisely pinning down the concept of participatory research, we intend to explore the ways participation can be activated by artistic research and visual methods and the various types of relationships that emerge within this process.

Published: 2016-03-28