Portugal & Azores:

Transatlantic Action Research
through PhotoVoice: Promoting Inclusion & Social Justice


  • Eduardo José da Silva Tomé Marques, Ph.D., Universidade dos Açores Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, Ponta Delgada, Portugal
  • Mieko Yoshihama, Ph.D., University of Michigan School of Social Work, Ann Arbor, MI, U.S.A.

Participating Students:

  • Joana Filipa Peres Gomes, Universidade dos Açores
  • Garcia Nkosi Luzolo, Universidade dos Açores
  • Shih-Ya Chang, University of Michigan
  • Danae Ross, University of Michigan

Collaborating Organization:


  • Fundacao Luso-Americana FLAD-UAc Mobility Fund, Crossing the Atlantic

Project Description:

This project addresses an important challenge facing our society today—how to promote social inclusion and justice in the era of increasing diversity and disparity. Using PhotoVoice, a participatory action research methodology, the project provides participants with a unique and challenging opportunity to engage in the examination, documentation, and dissemination of pressing social issues.

This Project is aimed at reinforcing the contribution of visual participatory research methodologies to social work education, practice, and research and also promoting knowledge transfer between USA and Portugal to raise the societal awareness about social exclusion and marginalization.

Using PhotoVoice, the project combines social investigation (research), capacity development (education), and social action. By taking photographs of various manifestations of social exclusion (e.g., homelessness, racial and gender discrimination, exclusive and marginalizing refugee and immigration policies and practices), the project makes these social issues visible. Through group discussions and other project activities, university students and faculty members, together with program participants, not only deepen their understanding of the manifestations and the mechanisms of social exclusion but also explore and take action, and incite others, to challenge pervasive social marginalization and to promote inclusion and social justice.

In September-October 2018, two students and a faculty member from the University of Azores Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities visited the University of Michigan School of Social Work. Their week-long residency included group discussions, visits to community- and civic-organizations, PhotoVoice activities, and a teach-in event on social exclusion; panellists at the teach-in included Prof. Odessa Gonzalez Benson, UM School of Social Work, and Prof. Ana Paula Pimentel Walker, UM Taubman College – Urban Planning . At the teach-in, students from the University of Azores presented their PhotoVoice from their visit to Detroit and Ann Arbor, MI.

In November 2018, two students and a faculty member from the University of Michigan School of Social Work visited the University of Azores in Ponta Delgada. In collaboration with a local NGO, Casa Dos Manaias Project, we conducted a PhotoVoice project with a group of homeless and marginalized individuals, many of whom had been deported from the U.S.A. Through photo-taking and group discussions participants elucidated the hardship they experience day-to-day and structural injustice and discrimination.

A conference, PhotoVoice as a Participatory Method on Social Investigation & Research, held at the University of Azores attracted students, practitioners, and scholars.

This project served as a pilot for a future cross-Atlantic participatory action research project as well as ongoing global education program aimed at strengthening social workers’ and students’ capacity to promote social inclusion and justice. We are currently working on a three-country PhotoVoice Global Education Project.