Digital storytelling
: Co-creative media and community engagement on the land border of Ireland

  • Adrian O'Connell

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


My research in Co-Creative Media and Community Engagement on the land border of Ireland explores the process of applied artistic practice in a mutually beneficial relationship based on knowledge exchange between participants and researcher / facilitator. I have adopted and developed the practice of Digital Storytelling to explore individual and communal border experience in an attempt to remove professional interpretation and ventriloquism while empowering individuals to represent themselves in the process.

This work is based on a constructivist hermeneutical approach, which values accounts of personal experience based on social actions and outcomes. The work builds on existing theoretical knowledge through an alternative form of knowledge generated within communities of interest.

Using a mixed methods approach I have been able to establish a more comprehensive and complete picture which combines complimentary data from PAR, Field Work, Case Study, Focus Groups and Interviews. Participatory Action Research (PAR) ensures collaboration, power, ethics, knowledge and building theory, are central to the community engagement process.

Through extensive community facilitation and process development I combined several narrative practices from Digital Storytelling, Life Story Method, Every Object tells a Story and Story Circle to facilitate the recovery of difficult and traumatic narratives enabling participants to rediscover their voice around complex and volatile experience. Working on the land border it is difficult to encounter anyone who has not experienced some form of trauma as witness, victim, survivor or perpetrator. The process was not about truth recovery or reconciliation but exploring the potentialfor engagement and participation and communication.

The significance of merging traditional narrative practice with Digital Storytelling lies in the capacity for authentic individual self recovery, discovery, expression with the support of the community in the age of New Media. In a post-documentary age, Digital Stories function as performances of mediatised actuality.
Date of AwardMay 2022
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorPaul Mc Kevitt (Supervisor) & Lisa Fitzpatrick (Supervisor)


  • Identity
  • Narrative
  • Participatory action research
  • Self
  • Single identity groups
  • Trauma
  • Troubles
  • Acknowledgement
  • Life story method
  • Story circle
  • Self reconstruction
  • Self discovery
  • Empowerment

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