The Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT), situated in the south-eastern corner of Bangladesh, is a distinct region in terms of its ethnic, cultural and environmental diversity. The CHT people have been deprived of many socio-economic and political rights and an armed insurgency was waged against the government until the signing of a Peace Accord in 1997.
Pathways of Women’s Empowerment South Asia organised a Digital Storytelling workshop in Rangamati, the Chittagong Hill Tracts, from 18-22 April 2010. The aim of the workshop was to engage participants from research being conducted in those areas by Pathways SA on security perspectives and media production by minority communities. The workshop is part of the Conceptualising Empowerment Research theme.
Digital stories, which are part oral history and part personal archiving, are 2-3 minute films that participants make to record experiences of their lives in their own words, voices and perspectives. This complete control over one’s story which a participant has is what makes digital stories so unique and powerful.
Many participants at the workshop spoke of the excitement they felt at having created a story about their life by themselves and they felt motivated to go back to their communities and share their learning.
One participant said that the workshop had allowed her to speak up about a traumatic incident in her past and the experience of presenting it to a roomful of strangers had proved cathartic and allowed her to put it behind her and move forward. Her emotional speech was a reminder of the power of storytelling, how it heals, how it helps us remember incidents in our own way, and how it deeply validates our experiences.
Pathways South Asia used digital storytelling to document the experiences of growth and transformation in women's lives from their own perspectives, in their own words and voices. The workshops the team held in Dhaka and Chittagong enabled participants to make a 3-4 minute multimedia presentation by themselves, providing moving testimonies of individual lives and the contexts in which empowerment/disempowerment is experienced. …
This article reflects on a digital storytelling project undertaken for research, communication, and advocacy purposes in Bangladesh. The project trained young women from different regions of the country to make digital stories about their everyday struggles and journeys of personal growth. Excerpts from selected digital stories are shared to highlight how these short films can be used to understand struggles against class and gender hierarchies, sexual harassment, and the need to establish full citizenship rights for minority groups. The article makes a case for digital stories as a new methodology for doing and communicating research. …