Ensemble Research: A Means for Immigrant Children to Explore Peer Relationships Through Fotonovela

  • Michael J. Emme
  • Anna Kirova
  • Oliver Kamau
  • Susan Kosanovich


This work began with a question about the challenges of nonverbal communication across cultures for both immigrant children in Canadian schools and a community of researchers. The question led to the gathering of an ensemble of researchers that included both adults and children. This article represents that collaborative group’s approach to a research innovation focusing on the fotonovela as both a research tool and a product of the research process. Antecedent narratives tell of the research team’s diverse skills, which became resources for the visual inquiry of immigrant children into their first Canadian school experiences. Combining digital-documentary, tableau, and digital-image manipulation, the children created, reflected on, and responded to fotonovelas about their peer relationships. Their stories combine elements of the personal with social symbolic representations that result in multiple layers of identification for the students and other readers of their research. This layered narrative is discussed as a unique result of combining digitized photographic processes with the fotonovela format. It also provides insights into how the fotonovela format can be used as a research tool.