Making Research and Building Knowledge with Communities: Examining Three Participatory Visual and Narrative Projects with Migrants Who Sell Sex in South Africa

  • Elsa Oliveira
  • Jo Vearey


Sex work is an important livelihood activity for many people in the world yet the bulk of literature on this subject is often the result of research that is under-taken on rather than with individuals who are engaged in the sex industry. In this chapter, we present and discuss three linked research projects conducted in partnership with Sisonke: the national sex worker movement in South Africa. These projects (initiated in 2010) have experimented with different ways of co-producing and sharing knowledge through participatory arts-based and narrative methods. We describe the evolution of these projects, and discuss how the involved research methods developed, including public engagement approaches that offer both opportunities and risks to participants and knowledge production processes.



We would like to thank all participants for generously sharing their time, stories, and experiences. We would like to acknowledge our partnerships with the Market Photo Workshop and Sisonke Sex Worker Movement and thank all involved, particularly Pamela Chakuvinga, Kholi Buthelezi, Dianne Massawe, Greta Schuler, and Quinten Williams, for their continued enthusiasm and commitment.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elsa Oliveira
    • 1
  • Jo Vearey
    • 1
  1. 1.African Centre for Migration and Society (ACMS)University of WitwatersrandJohannesburgSouth Africa

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