News & events


Challenges and Possibilities in Research for Social Change on Rurality and Rural Contexts: The Case for Visual Participatory Methods

22 June 2011
12:15 - 13:30

Date :

22 June 2011

Time :

12:15 – 13:30

Presenters :

Professor Relebohile Moletsane, Faculty of Education, University of KwaZulu-Natal


Why is it that, 17 years after the demise of Apartheid, rural communities in South Africa are still plagued by seemingly insurmountable challenges, with no change in sight for those who need it most? Why and how is it that “initiatives meant to bring about social change in these areas… have not addressed the systemic challenges” (Balfour, Mitchell and Moletsane, 2008: 99) that make real transformation difficult?  

This presentation is premised on the notion that the lack of (desirable) social change is due in large part, to the dominance of research paradigms that ignore the voices of those most affected and those who are the intended beneficiaries of the interventions informed by the scholarship. Thus, in re-imagining the research (and development) endeavour, using examples from research conducted through the Centre for Visual methodologies for Social Change at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. The presentation aims to critically on rurality and to map the issues that face rural communities as well as the limitations of dominant research paradigms and their impact on social change (or lack thereof). The paper will end with an exploration of the possibilities for using participatory visual methods in conducting what Schratz and Walker (1995) have called research as social change.  

Relebohile Moletsane is Professor and JL Dube Chair in Rural Education in the Faculty of Education, the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Her teaching and research experience is in the areas of curriculum studies, teacher education and professional development, rural education and development, gender and education, including gender-based violence and its links to HIV and AIDS and AIDS-related stigma, body politics, as well as on girlhood studies in Southern African contexts. Her research and development work includes the use of participatory visual methodologies with marginalized groups. She is the co-author (with Claudia Mitchell, Ann Smith and Linda Chisholm) of the book: Methodologies for Mapping a Southern African Girlhood in Age of Aids. Rotterdam/New York/Taipei: Sense Publishers; a co-editor (with Kathleen Pithouse and Claudia Mitchell) of the 2009 book: Making Connections: Self-Study & Social Action. New York: Peter Lang, and a co-editor (with Claudia Mitchell and Ann Smith) of an upcoming book, “Was it something I wore? ”Dress, Identity and Materiality. Cape Town: HSRC Press.  

Download the Audio Presentation (Part 1) here

Download the Audio Presentation (Part 2) here


Cape Town: HSRC, 12th Floor, Plein Park Building (Opposite Revenue Office), Plein Street, Cape Town. Contact Vuyokazi Ngxubaza, Tel +27 (0) 21 466 8004, Fax (021) 461 0299, or  Cell: +27 (0) 82 050 8453

Durban: First floor HSRC board room, 750 Francois Road, Ntuthuko Junction, Pods 5 and 6, Cato Manor, Contact Ridhwaan Khan, Tel +27 (0) 31 242 5400, cell: +27 (0) 83 788 2786 or

Pretoria: HSRC Video Conference, 1st floor HSRC Library Human Sciences Research Council, 134 Pretorius Street, Pretoria. Arlene Grossberg, Tel: +27 (0) 12 302 2811, e-mail: