My Journey into ComDev

A view over the Himalayas in Nepal.I characterise my journey into Communication for Development like a river rushing out of the Himalayas, it’s non-linear, can be intense and reflective at different moments and overall truly transformative.

My early career began as a community development worker, primarily with homeless youth and newly-arrived refugees in Newcastle, Australia. I’ve come to realise this early work laid the foundation for my career today in communication for development. Unknowingly to me then but this underpinning as a community development worker is still crucial in my role as a visual storyteller and communications for development practitioner.

Over the past 10 years, I have worked with communities in more than 60 countries, primarily as a visual storyteller. Throughout this time I inevitably met people who were practising Communication for Development, or C4D as it’s commonly known. I began to look into Communication for Development as a discipline and as I learnt more I had one of those moments where I realised, ‘this is what I do, this is me!’ This interest turned into a need to learn more, so I then enrolled at the University of Malmo’s Communication for Development Masters program in 2015. That is quite literally why I am here writing this blog, it is part of my course.

Communication for Development as a discipline has had many important contributions from academics and thinkers spanning the global south and north. Personally, the writing of Linje Manyozo has been among the most insightful, offering intellectual challenges and also everyday value for me as a practitioner. Manyozo’s new book Communicating Development with Communities (2017) explores more closely a pedagogy of  ‘listening through communicating’ and ‘speaking development alongside communities’ and I would strongly recommend it to anyone beginning their journey into C4D.

In addition to specific C4D literature, I encourage anyone new to the Communication for Development field to develop a strong foundation in post-colonial discourse and digital communication. The location of culture (Bhabha, 1994) and Orientalism (Said, 1978) are two cornerstone books in postcolonial discourse and well worth reading. There is a plethora of writing exploring digital communication and it is worth looking at both academic and journalistic texts. Digital communication is increasingly becoming a core method for C4D so a broad base of knowledge about social media, blogging, online self-publishing is crucial.

I look forward to sharing a more in-depth post next week, be sure to follow our blog to see weekly posts from myself and others in group 3.

Conor Ashleigh

Conor is a committed visual storyteller that produces compelling and intimate stories using photography and film. Conor tells stories that are primarily focused on exploring the human experience within a wide range of social, cultural and environmental contexts. Conor works for a range of international organisations in both the development and humanitarian spaces. Conor’s practice is deeply informed by his background in community development and extensive experience working with a range of communities and cultures across the globe. He is regularly engaged on assignments creating meaningful video stories and photographic essays as well as facilitating participatory visual communication and storytelling workshops for communities and project staff.

Comments are closed.