Unlocking contested stories and grass-roots knowledge. Digital storytelling as a participatory method to explore communities’ sense of place

2019-06-20T10:10:30Z (GMT) by Antonia Liguori
Digital storytelling is a form of engagement that enables people to share personal stories and to produce new knowledge(s). Digital stories reveal unexpected connections across different communities of interest, places and time periods. They reflect shared and conflicting values, feelings and concerns surrounding a particular place. Digital storytelling as a process can guide us during a journey over time, by enabling storytellers to use their creativity to trigger memories from the past and to stimulate critical thinking around current situations and possible future scenarios. It also reconnects storytellers and story-listeners to physical and emotional journeys, whilst they are disconnecting themselves from places that, after dramatic transitions, can’t exist anymore as they were. Reflecting on some examples of practice-led research projects, this chapter will consider questions such as: how to connect individual stories to community narratives? How to unlock grass-roots knowledge and bring unheard voices into a debate? What kinds of social impacts can personally meaningful stories - especially if they are contested - produce? Since co-design and co-production have been identified as key elements of the digital storytelling process, this chapter intends also to inquire if and how this methodology can be enriched by contaminations with other creative approaches absorbed from the visual arts and music. Comparing digital stories and other forms of narratives may represent an additional way of uncovering conflicts and also discovering unexpected common ground in the dialogue between lay and experts’ knowledge, due to the authenticity of personal stories and the natural ‘mess’ of storytelling (Wilson, 2014).