Troubling the humanist teleology of digital storytelling

Heather Lynch*

*Corresponding author for this work

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As a central strand of the 4th International Visual Methods Conference (IVM4 took place in Brighton 2015 with a focus on critical approaches, narrative and visual research methods), Digital Storytelling was represented as a model of participatory research with significant potential for emancipatory impact. Joe Lambert founder and Executive Director of the Story Center (formerly Centre for Digital Storytelling) gave a keynote presentation; there were also a significant number of parallel presentations that reported research from digital storytelling practices. Many of these drew on the methods proposed by the Story Center which position this practice as socially transformative. However, the ways in which this vein of digital storytelling is couched within Freire’s Hegelian teleology generates a range of ethical problems. Freirean approaches rest on a humanist notion of the dialectic of recognition and when translated to the level of the collective, this ends in a problematic model of collective identity, which is ultimately exclusionary and particularistic. More recent thinking on the commons by Italian theorists (Esposito, 2010; Hardt and Negri, 2011; Agamben, 1993) continues the struggle for liberation but sidesteps these problems through a rethinking on how the commons is formulated. Read in conjunction with Rancière’s aesthetic politics these ideas offer alternative possibilities for participation by artists interested in emancipation and resistance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-50
Number of pages6
JournalVisual Methodologies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 22 Dec 2017


  • Digital storytelling,
  • Esposito
  • Freire,
  • commons,


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