Mediating the Space Between: Using Photo-Elicitation to Prompt Cultural Consciousness-Raising

  • Sarah A. Mathews


This chapter outlines a process for using photographs to elicit dialogue in cross-cultural settings to develop perspective consciousness, one component of global citizenship. The research featured is part of a larger ethnographic study of American pre-service teachers participating in a student-teaching abroad program in Kenya, East Africa. Photo elicitation served as a mechanism to stimulate discussion and prompt cultural consciousness-raising. The prospective teachers were asked to view and reflect on photographs that were captured by Kenyan students as a part of a project documenting a week in their lives. The work draws on Jürgen Habermas’ (Knowledge and human interests. Beacon, Boston, 1971, The theory of communicative action: Volume one—reason and the rationalization of society. Beacon, Boston, 1981, The theory of communicative action: Volume two—lifeworld and system. Beacon, Boston, 1987) concept of mediated understanding to examine the subjective, normative-evaluative and identity claims found in participants’ dialogue. The process allowed the researcher to explore how images and cross-cultural interactions were being viewed and interpreted, as well as which social contexts influence this interpretation. The dialogue surrounding these photographs demonstrates the future teachers’ ability to take on another perspective after their experience abroad. However, these results also indicate instances where the international student teachers were reinforcing the dominant discourse when describing Kenya and did not feel they could adequately challenge the pervasive stereotypes of this region found in American schools, curriculum, and media.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Florida International UniversityMiamiUSA

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