The research outcomes (still to be closely analysed) hint at:
- Transnational labour exploitation and human trafficking activities (for economic reasons)
- Difficult communication, dialogue and cooperation between fishing communities and law enforcement organisations (trust, information sharing, support)
- Blurring lines between unlawful and criminal activities (IUU fishing, or illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing)
- Willingness to address illegal activities but lack of resources and coordination among law enforcement organisations
The research uses what we refer to as collage-making which worked out quite well in most cases offering alternative ways to discuss some of the more sensitive issues at stake. ‘Collage’ is a popular art form which was cultivated by Pablo Picasso and George Braque in the early 20th century. As a visual research methodology however, collage–making is still under-used in the social sciences and humanities. We use it in our project as a creative tool for exploring primary knowledge, opinions and ideas, which would otherwise be tainted by the politics of dialogue and discussion, and the practices of the ‘speech act’. We argue that collage-making offers an egalitarian way of knowledge production. We do so based on the critical understanding that research and research outcomes need to be more inclusive of our research participants’ viewpoints, questions, and voice. We have specifically used the collage-making technique in order to level the playing field in Focus Group discussions and to get participants out of their comfort zone of traditional conversation.
We provided the focus group participants with the means to make a collage. Scissors, glue, magazines, sticky notes and different markers offered the possibility of creative visual expression.
The creative outcomes were the products of both preconceived ideas as well as new, innovative understandings which were triggered by the images that the participants saw while flipping through the magazines. The images that were chosen to become part of the collage were integrated in different manners reflecting the multiple ways of picturing maritime crimes and security.
We then invited the individual participants to explain their collages, which resulted in different verbal expressions. In the ensuing discussions, questions were asked on the basis of the collages rather than the verbal explanations. While the explanations provide us with the traditional tool of transcribed language, the collages provide us with a new and innovative visual method to analyse and interpret the opinions and the ‘voices’ of a range of participating stakeholders.