Future Visualities (Wednesday June 1st, 2022)

Visual Methods & Ethnography in Interdisciplinary Research Symposium

The Visual Methods and Ethnography (VM&E) in Interdisciplinary Research Symposium is a one-day event designed to unite visual and ethnographic researchers by sharing cutting-edge interdisciplinary visual and ethnographic methods, including analogue and digital techniques. The symposium will take place at the Craiglockhart Campus at Edinburgh Napier University on Wednesday June 1st, 2022. We welcome anyone with an interest in Visual Methods.

VM&E methods are continually advancing and need to evolve to capture the complexities of our ever-changing world. Methods such as art-based and arts-informed research, (visual) ethnography, (digital) visual techniques, creative and participative research, academic film-making, rich picture-building, photo-elicitation, semiotics, visual analysis and screencasting videography draw from disciplines including:  anthropology, sociology, marketing, consumer research, tourism, intercultural communications, linguistics, the Arts, media studies and other areas. Our symposium offers a space to discuss and debate how we might advance and develop new approaches that capture these complexities.

This interdisciplinary symposium co-designed and led by Dr Ashleigh Logan-McFarlane, Dr Kat Rezai, Dr Louise Todd and Dr Mabel Victoria aims to gather academics of all stages, practitioners, artists and individuals to further conversations and exchange best practices in visual, ethnographic and digital methods. The day will consist of themed tracks, workshops, panel discussions and a visual gallery, where you can showcase your creative visual outputs.

Keynote speakers

Dr Fatema Kawaf

Dr Fatema Kawaf Senior Lecturer in Digital Marketing at the University of Greenwich and founder of Screencast Videography, a visual research method for studying digital experience using screencasting. 

Keynote title:

Screencast Videography: Toward a Visual, Dynamic Understanding of the Digital Realm


In today’s fast-paced, data-rich, dynamic, social, and visual world, many of our experiences, activities and daily interactions have shifted to the digital realm – accelerated by the covid19 pandemic. Socializing, dating, gambling, shopping, consumption, and searching for information, ideas, and solutions are just some of the many things we do online. And with the advances in AR and VR technologies, our current digital lives are about to be transformed within the newly established metaverse – a socially and technologically engineered space. Crossing into this digital realm necessitates a new way of thinking and adopting an innovative approach to studying digital experiences, digital selves, and digital life. I present Screencast Videography (SCV) as a novel research method that enables the videographic research of digital interactions and experiences. Using videos of screen activities and outputs (screencasts) for data collection, SCV captures digitally-occurring experiences and interactions in visual and dynamic forms. The method offers unique insights beyond the already established in-depth qualitative and often visual methodologies such as Netnography and Digital Ethnography. Indeed, the accessibility of content, especially visual content, on social media has been low hanging fruit for researchers in this field. However, whilst these methods have had burgeoning success, they focus mainly on the digital footprint – the trace users leave behind in the form of posts, comments, reactions, etc. SCV came to light to bridge the epistemological gap in understanding digital experiences and interactions as it moves beyond the digital footprint and captures the true visual and dynamic nature of digital experience.

Dr Terence Heng

Dr Terence Heng Senior Lecturer in Visual Sociology at the University of Liverpool author of Visual Methods in the Field (Routledge 2016), Of Gods, Gifts and Ghosts: Spiritual Places in Urban Spaces (Routledge 2020) and Diasporas, Weddings and the Trajectories of Ethnicity (Routledge 2020). 

Keynote title:

Blending the Senses: Photography, Poetry and (Auto)Ethnography


Visual methods are often seen as a “creative edge” that complements other “traditional” research methods like ethnography, interviews and participatory approaches. In particular, photographs are used in a variety of ways – as illustrations, as elicitation material, as objects of study, and most importantly as visualisations that create ethnographic layers of meaning. However, it has only been in the last 7 years or so, where digital photography has become ubiquitous, that visual methods are starting to be taken seriously by a wider audience of users.

In this presentation, I will be discussing the various ways that documentary and/or creative genres of photography can inform, enhance and disrupt text-based ethnographic approaches in the social sciences. Drawing from two recently published monographs – Of Gods, Gifts and Ghosts: Spiritual Places in Urban Places and Diasporas, Weddings and the Trajectories of Ethnicity, I will examine how my photographic and creative practices have evolved to visualise and verbalise my fields of research. I will explore how photography, combined with creative writing like poetry and narrative prose, is a powerful method to map and communicate the spatiality, emotions and materiality of various social themes, namely diaspora, identity and death.

Dr Brett Lashua 

Dr Brett Lashua Lecturer in the Sociology of the Media and Education at University College London and Visiting Professor at Brock University, Canada. Editorial board member of Emerald publishing, Leisure/Loisir and Leisure Sciences. Author of 60 publications whose interdisciplinary arts-based ethnographic research spans cultural sociology, youth leisure, popular culture and media studies, underpinned by interests in cultural histories and cultural geographies.

Keynote title:

Visualising popular music heritage: (Re)mapping the beat?


In this talk I focus on visual representations of popular music heritage in cities. Guided by the notion that ‘every place deserves an atlas’ (Solnit 2010: vii), I aim to locate and critically question popular music heritage through a series of mappings – some ethnographic, others archival, and some pedestrian or psychogeographic – in Liverpool (UK), Leeds (UK), and Cleveland (USA). Mappings can help to open up generative processes of constructing, conducting and questioning research and knowledge production. For Moretti (1998: 3-4), maps are not an ending but the start of discussions: ‘a good map is worth a thousand words, cartographers say, and they are right […] it raises doubts, ideas. It poses new questions, and forces you to look for new answers’. In my research, mappings have helped to draw attention to edges, borders, and margins. If Liverpool, Cleveland and Leeds are peripheral or ‘edge’ cities (Higginson and Wailey 2006) their popular music heritages are – varyingly – on edges (and ‘edgy’) too. Yet, as Moretti (1998: 3) also put it, such mappings help to bring ‘to light relations that would otherwise remain hidden’ between music, people, heritage and cities. Mapping also can be useful in cities described as having a ‘lost’ popular music heritage (Carr 2019), hidden even to many who reside there. That is, mapping popular music heritage can help to produce an atlas that these cities deserve.


Please download the VME Schedule and Book of Abstracts from below. 

To register for the event, please click here.


Funded by the Edinburgh Napier Researcher Development Fund.

Additional sponsor: the Tourism Research Centre (TRC). 

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VME Schedule and Book of Abstracts