On this episode, Whitney Tchoula and I discuss her work using photographs to explore methamphetamine consumption in the rural south. We talk about agency, ethics, the power of images, and Whitney walks us through some amazing photographs.
Whitney Tchoula began her Ph.D at Rutgers School of Criminal Justice in 2017. Her research interests include drug use, drug markets, rural crime, gender, and visual criminology. Her work has been published in The International Journal of Drug Policy, Deviant Behavior, among others. She has presented her research at international and regional conferences, such as The American Society of Criminology and the Southern Criminal Justice Association annual meetings. In addition to research, Whitney is a passionate undergraduate instructor having designed and taught Criminology and Introduction to Writing in Criminal Justice (this course was instructed at New Jersey City University). She holds a B.A. in Sociology from Western Kentucky University and a M.S in Criminal Justice from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. https://rscj.newark.rutgers.edu/peopl...
Tom Baker has been a PhD student in UMSL's Criminology and Criminal Justice program since 2017. Tom received his BA in Political Science from Arizona State University and worked as a police officer for approximately nine years. His research interests include police culture, use of force, and qualitative research methods. https://www.umsl.edu/ccj/Graduate%20S...
Copes, H., Tchoula, W., Brookman, F., & Ragland, J. (2018). Photo-elicitation interviews with vulnerable populations: Practical and ethical considerations. Deviant Behavior, 39(4), 475-494.
Check out the powerful work of Whitney’s photo documentary research partner, Jared Ragland here: https://jaredragland.com/
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Tom Baker: So thanks for coming and spending your time with me for a little bit. I really appreciate it. Can you just go ahead and introduce yourself maybe your name and where you work. Yeah.
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Whitney Tchoula: Sure. First of all, thanks for having me. I was really excited to get the invite. Since I've been watching on Facebook. So I was like, Oh, all right. Um, but yeah. My name is Whitney Chula I'm wrapping up my third year in the Ph. D. Program at university records University Newark.
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Whitney Tchoula: Okay.
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Tom Baker: And you study criminology. Come on, justice, there
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Whitney Tchoula: So it's a school of criminal justice. So the degree will be criminal justice, but most of my stuff. I think does fall along criminology round. Okay.
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Tom Baker: And just so with with what's going on. Are you in. Are you in New Jersey right now.
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Whitney Tchoula: Yes, I live in Montclair, New Jersey, which is about, I guess for train stops Italia judge things away from the university. So we are here, kind of like around the epicenter.
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Whitney Tchoula: As they're calling it in our county has been particularly hit pretty hard. As far as cases as well. Death. So I'm in Essex County.
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Tom Baker: Okay. And do you have friends or I don't know personally but you
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Tom Baker: You're saying, you know, you know, people you're sort of like right in the thick of it. Are you doing okay are you are you managing this. Okay.
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Whitney Tchoula: Yeah, so I'm really grateful that myself, as well as, as far as I know, all my family's my wife's family as well. We're all good.
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Whitney Tchoula: I have students who have been impacted as well as their family. So that's the primary as far as like my focus. Obviously we worry for our families, but as far folks who are actually having the virus and trying to recover. It's only been through my students
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Tom Baker: Okay, well. Best wishes to them. I know this might
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Tom Baker: Be like
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Tom Baker: It's disruptive here I can imagine being there must be crazy. So
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Tom Baker: Nothing I can really say, you know,
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Whitney Tchoula: Yeah, I know it's been
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Whitney Tchoula: A wild ride trying to switch over and still, you know, tried to give students a good educational experience for those who still can and want to engage. But while at the same time recognizing, you know, the pressing issues that humanity is facing and being a good person.
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Tom Baker: Yeah, it's, it's a mixed as you want to give people an opportunity to engage, but at the same time. You don't want to be putting pressure on people. I know we've had. I know of students who've
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Tom Baker: You know, then show up the class. And it's because they've had some housing instability and they had to move states back to their parents house and
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Tom Baker: You know, they lose a job that's paying their rent and they have no place to stay, you know, school become quickly becomes a secondary two things. So one thing I've liked is our school is
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Tom Baker: Said, when you're not going to go down kind of thing with the grades will give you opportunities to improve your grade. But when you're not going to be punished. At this point, if you have some troubles, because I think everyone's recognizes this is just unprecedented
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Whitney Tchoula: Absolutely. And I, and I would like to say that my university is doing the same. Of course, I can't guarantee that you know it's obviously individual Professor by Professor but from what I know and my colleagues and the folks that
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Whitney Tchoula: You know, or my professors. They've all been really accommodating. And we're very aware of, you know, just the needs that everyone faces, but especially when you serve kind of as an anchor institution you have more responsibilities than just being educators, essentially, right.
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Tom Baker: Definitely. So where did you grow up, you saw me just, you know, some new jersey. I
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Whitney Tchoula: Know, I am not. I'm actually from Ohio Dayton, Ohio, not that well known. But, you know, we created the cash register in it birthplace of aviation you
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Tom Baker: Should have the cash register.
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Whitney Tchoula: Dayton, Ohio. Yes, that is where the world's first cash register originated. So that's kind of what we're known for as well aviation and, I guess, more recently, the Obama documentary is American factory, something that
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Whitney Tchoula: On the map again.
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Tom Baker: You're known for you're known for those things. I think it's interesting that the cash register.
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Tom Baker: Think you're really known for that.
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Whitney Tchoula: Oh, we are known for it. Okay, we take if you're in Dayton, you will know that we have created the caches. I have $1 signs have not
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Tom Baker: Oh wow, okay. And just the fact. So if I get in trouble like some some dangerous looking people have me cornered in Dayton, I just need to like
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Tom Baker: I mentioned the cash register and I
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Tom Baker: Think I'm part of their group.
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Whitney Tchoula: I don't think it goes that far but it's definitely a good trivia fact to know
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Tom Baker: Okay. All right. I'll fit in better and dating at least about
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Tom Baker: Okay, so, so this is a. So we're going to talk about a paper today on the link is down below, like in the description. There'll be a link to it so that people can read the paper.
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Tom Baker: And so you guys use photographs to explore
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Tom Baker: A topic.
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Tom Baker: People who are consuming drugs methamphetamine, and it's a little it's an unusual methodology, something that I hadn't really been exposed to until I came across your guys's research. I heard a talk and then read the paper and I thought it was fascinating.
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Tom Baker: Can you talk a little bit about the methodology that you that we're going to be discussing today, like how you guys collect the data. And specifically, you know, sort of this you guys talked about this participant lead vs researchers lead to just talk about it a little bit.
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Whitney Tchoula: For sure. And so I want to start by saying, I think that visual methods are kind of novel, so to speak, and criminology.
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Whitney Tchoula: But it's certainly not novel and social sciences, more broadly, and I think in some ways images are even more used in criminology than I think we originally conceived of we just were maybe having a more limited
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Whitney Tchoula: Conception. So I think that, you know, it's not the methodology of choice for most folks, but when we looked into social science and some
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Whitney Tchoula: Kind of public health and stuff like, I'm sorry, sociology, public health, anthropology, a lot more kind of visuals and so we really wanted to
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Whitney Tchoula: Do some of that and there's a variety of ways to do it. One of the ways that I want to eventually use photos is a method called photo voice in which you're kind of trying to actually create change so to speak with a kind of more
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Tom Baker: Sometimes photo photo voice.
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Whitney Tchoula: Did you say yes.
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Whitney Tchoula: Photo voice. Dr. Brown men.
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Whitney Tchoula: at Chicago does great work she did a project using photo voice with a group of women who were
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Whitney Tchoula: immigrants to this country and they were involved in kind of like a battered women's program.
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Whitney Tchoula: And so gave them cameras and equip them. And so it's supposed to lead to some kind of social change. And that's where I want to go. Eventually, but for this paper that you're talking about that you provided a link for
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Whitney Tchoula: It's just another method called our photo elucidation. And so what we do is literally it's the same kind of process, he would have is doing a regular you know voice interview with someone right you're asking them questions, but rather than kind of relying on these
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Whitney Tchoula: I guess we're relying on folks to conjure the same kind of image or conjure what we're asking them, and it's a little more
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Whitney Tchoula: Symbolic and but this way with pictures. It actually centers the subject and provides a more definite example of what we're trying to talk about
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Whitney Tchoula: And so, yeah, we wanted to do that. But we didn't want to do it just by creating the images ourselves, which is researcher.
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Whitney Tchoula: Generated we wanted to also include participants to kind of CO create the data, which is the participant driven side of it.
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Whitney Tchoula: You can use one but we really advise using both because I think it just gives a much more full picture look at what you're studying and can really allow for some more moments of empowerment, so to speak for the participants themselves.
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Tom Baker: So you said so there's there's two ways of getting so you guys will take photographs and then
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Tom Baker: The participants also take photographs. So what so just talk about the photograph. You guys may take like
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Tom Baker: Walk me through sort of how that takes place. What, what do you photograph and why do you select what you select the photograph as a researcher.
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Whitney Tchoula: So I'm not really that talented photographing so we partnered with a photographer, who's excellent Jared Raglan I can provide you his
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Whitney Tchoula: His bio and link and all that, as well. But he took the pictures and he took the lead on this side of things for us.
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Whitney Tchoula: My co author. He's coke down at UAB he was going to do the photos himself but wanted. I guess a sharper I so we brought him on to the project and he
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Whitney Tchoula: While we lived in the same world and we were doing the same project. There was, as you saw in the paper, a bit of independence between the two as well.
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Whitney Tchoula: And so he was helping us of course take photos of things that we deemed important or that the participant seemed important
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Whitney Tchoula: While at the same time, you know, trying to accomplish his own photographic goals and capturing things that truck him and he's gone on to sense you know show his photographs in
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Whitney Tchoula: Many different formats that aren't having anything to do with kind of traditional academia.
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Tom Baker: So you guys are out in the field you're interacting with these folks who are consuming methamphetamines are involved in a group with a group of people were methamphetamine is a part of the lifestyle and
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Tom Baker: While you're there you have a photo documentarian with you, who's sort of doing his own work, but you're collaborating as well. And then you so something that you think is as a criminologist sociologist that you think is important.
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Tom Baker: You photograph it and what do you do with that photograph and your participants and then what what do you do with that with that data.
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Whitney Tchoula: So what we did is, once those photographs happened. Thanks to technology and everything we had access to them pretty quickly.
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Whitney Tchoula: So that we pretty much like you do with field notes, we would go back and you know kind of look at these images as quickly as we could to kind of see what themes were emerging from that point if we wanted to have
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Whitney Tchoula: These P i interviews with specific participants, we would go ahead and look at the images we have with them or if they had submitted the images look at those and then look at our transcripts as well or review our field.
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Whitney Tchoula: And kind of create kit that we call them photo kits. We got that from a few other visual researchers who use that term. And then we prompt them.
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Whitney Tchoula: Rather than just having a repeat interview where we kind of reorient you with words or hey, we've seen this. We just literally showed the interview and we use an iPad to do so.
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Tom Baker: So you sit down and rather than saying, hey, and ask a question based off of the data. The data that you've been processing. And the question new questions that you have.
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Tom Baker: You sit down and show them photograph that was taken out in the field. So while you're on the field, you see something that you think is noteworthy.
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Tom Baker: And then you use that photograph to elicit a response from the participant and then that that's that's your data. So you're so you're using the photograph is just as a tool to elicit elicit that
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Whitney Tchoula: Exactly. And I think it's important to note that we were using these visual methods in kind of an ethnography sense, rather than just like a standalone project.
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Whitney Tchoula: And so I say that to say that it while it did provide data for us to ask participants about it also just provided data for us to kind of immerse ourselves in the world a little more. And even if we wouldn't use those images in productions or in
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Whitney Tchoula: You know, data driven interviews, we would also be able to access that as you would any kind of transcript data or field notes to it helped in more than just the literal
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Whitney Tchoula: Kind of enter the subsequent P i interviews, but it also just helped in general us with coding and analyzing the data as it came in.
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Tom Baker: And it's another thing I thought was interesting in the paper was you guys talked about this being a way for
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Tom Baker: To build a bridge between researcher and participant to not only have to be one way of them giving you information, but you could you could be contributing and exposing a little bit of yourself to the participant is
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Whitney Tchoula: Absolutely.
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Whitney Tchoula: I think for me, you know, any kind of qualitative projects are probably arguably any science in general, I see it as being a collaboration right and
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Whitney Tchoula: That collaboration should be extended to our participants and so that collaboration really helped. Yeah, I'd hoped I think the rapport greatly. I think that
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Whitney Tchoula: You know by opening ourselves up and making ourselves a little more available, it increased trust exponentially. And we were also able to find ways to
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Whitney Tchoula: Kind of become more real with ourselves and researchers through the process. So I think it was definitely reciprocal experience in that sense of how much it was kind of
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Whitney Tchoula: Opening up both up
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Tom Baker: And then you, you also, it's not just you guys collecting photographs with this professional photographer, but participants almost taking part of the study. They're also taking photographs and she told me how that how that works.
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Whitney Tchoula: So, it happened in phases, because again, we didn't have it all figured out. Like how this was going to work. We weren't like replicating a study or really, we were trying to just see all the benefits that kind of photos could bring into the
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Whitney Tchoula: Experience. So at first, we tried to do like a disposable cameras.
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Whitney Tchoula: That didn't really work that well. Because for a lot of reasons, but one of the reasons is there's like nowhere in rural south to to get these developers quickly so
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Tom Baker: This is, this isn't like out that this is an alabama rural community.
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Whitney Tchoula: Very rural. Yes. And, you know, yeah. So it was just not accessible. You couldn't just go into a CVS. I don't even think you can do that in general much anywhere but specifically not in rural Alabama.
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Whitney Tchoula: And so it just became a burden the time that it would take So we scratch that.
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Whitney Tchoula: We were just like, that's not going to work. And it was also kind of costly where we could be using that money to pay participants for their time or whatever else. And so we went with the digital method and
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Whitney Tchoula: Yeah, pretty much how that works is those who had cell phones or smartphones. Already we asked them if they wanted to participate and do this.
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Whitney Tchoula: And some did some had smartphones and didn't want to do it, but those who had smartphones, mostly seem to be kind of into it, but that interest as we mentioned in the paper.
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Whitney Tchoula: Varied you know in intensity and longevity between the participants.
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Tom Baker: And so, so they would just have their cell phone and would you tell them, hey, keep keep an eye out for this type of theme or would it be anything you think is noteworthy something and what was, what was the sort of like the guidelines in terms of what they were going to be doing.
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Whitney Tchoula: The good part is because it was like an ethnography and we were up there for so long and so often we had
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Whitney Tchoula: Quite a few participants and we knew really well, so to speak, and we saw them often. And so with those individuals. Yeah, like the kind of onboarding, so to speak, process.
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Whitney Tchoula: We would just give them kind of broad themes like what are kind of your triggers for those who were struggling with, you know, trying to maintain sobriety.
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Whitney Tchoula: Or what things make you happy. What you know just just kind of very broad prompts because it's kind of difficult to just give someone something and say, hey, go have, you know,
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Whitney Tchoula: So in sticking to that at first. I think some folks just kind of branched out naturally and just started it started to become more of, I think, just the habit.
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Whitney Tchoula: And again, as we mentioned in the paper for some of our younger participants. We had quite a few of this was already second nature. You know, Snapchat, Instagram, all this stuff. It's not
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Whitney Tchoula: It's not weird, so to speak, or unusual for them to pick up a phone and take a picture of anything in their life.
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Tom Baker: Know my daughter sends me like at texts like news articles pictures me you know every everything. It's just, it's a way we communicate sometimes in the next room. So I think it's become
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Tom Baker: second nature for a lot of people. And I think a lot of people just feel safer communicating that way as well as, like, you know, more introverted type of people maybe feel more comfortable came that way.
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Whitney Tchoula: I 100% think so. Absolutely. And I think that because like some of the communication that we did with through like apps.
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Whitney Tchoula: So they weren't necessarily always just texting us pictures. I think that gave them an outlet to be able to maybe send us stuff when
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Whitney Tchoula: Maybe they weren't looking for an immediate reply, but they just wanted to dump something and then not have to face it right then and move on later. And so in that sense, I think.
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Whitney Tchoula: Not only does it like kind of benefit introverts, but maybe it benefits folks who just want to release and have kind of a third party, so to speak, to release to and then just move on for that moment anyway.
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Tom Baker: Okay, so, so then you guys. You guys have those pictures you do the same, same thing you use those.
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Tom Baker: The things that you've been sent the things that you think are notable you guys think, Hey, we really
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Tom Baker: Want to discuss this and you use that as a prop to elicit responses and you're getting it from these from both of both of these methods come together and then you're analyzing this data.
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Tom Baker: Can you, can you talk a little bit. You guys talk about this in the paper about this method being a method that you know
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Tom Baker: helps create a venue for agency. So a good. Can you talk a little bit about that.
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Whitney Tchoula: Yeah. So for me, and I think all my co authors would agree, like, one of the things that we think is so important is you know you use this
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Whitney Tchoula: overused phrase of give voice to people, but people have voice. Right. You just got to find ways to give them a platform or to share the mic or whatever the case may be right. Just make space for
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Whitney Tchoula: Like marginalized voices to be heard. And so I think that we were trying to find methods that highlighted that particularly with a population that's already marginalized and rural and doesn't always have the best depiction.
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Whitney Tchoula: Kind of as we spoke about through email through the media. And so it was really important for us to find a way to take away
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Whitney Tchoula: Kind of this hegemonic control of identity and to some degree, literally put it in the hands of the folks we're talking with to create their own identity. We did that several ways.
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Whitney Tchoula: You know, from silly things like this, allowing them to pick their own names, you know, to literally trying to do.
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Whitney Tchoula: To do this kind of methodology, so we can empower them through giving them a skill you know for sometimes we sat down there and talked also about like lighting or
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Whitney Tchoula: Just better ways to like capture images and it's not necessarily something marketable but it
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Whitney Tchoula: I like learning things and it seemed like folks like learning a new thing. So it can be empowering in that way and just again, providing a space for someone to more accurately tell their story and not have to send throughout bad parts that might make other people feel uncomfortable.
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Tom Baker: Right and and I think you guys touched on this is that you you have just a handful of corporations that are, you know, providing these images and
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Tom Baker: Of what a certain type of person is who is in this x or y type of lifestyle and those people are marginalized there, you know, quite often socio economically. They're rough shape and maybe racial
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Tom Baker: component to it and and and it doesn't. They're just there. They have no control over how they're
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Tom Baker: There and. And one thing I noticed having, you know, I worked in policing years ago was one of the most notable things for me was getting to know
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Tom Baker: The people who you might think we're we're one dimensional like oh that's a bad guy. I had, I can think of one person I had been investigating on a case who had been murdered his homicide victim and
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Tom Baker: Working that working in assisting on that homicide case got to know quite a bit about this person's background and
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Tom Baker: If you were to watch this type of person in a movie. It would be very one dimensional he's this gang member, he's
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Tom Baker: using drugs, he's this he's that, but he was also, you know, really good student of dance when he was younger.
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Tom Baker: He, you know, has a family who loves him. He is a great brother. He is, you know, there's all of these
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Tom Baker: Components to people, but we put them in boxes. So that's one of the things I really liked about this.
00:19:56.550 --> 00:20:09.810
Tom Baker: Was this the woman who we're going to talk about later, is that she's I thought it was incredible that how she exposes this complexity. You know that, hey, I'm not one dimensional here. I'm a total person so
00:20:09.930 --> 00:20:17.520
Whitney Tchoula: Absolutely. Absolutely. And I think like what you said about like the institutions, why that was so important to my actual first kind of like foray into this visual work.
00:20:17.790 --> 00:20:22.770
Whitney Tchoula: Is we were speaking with individuals who use math and showing them anti mass media campaigns.
00:20:23.250 --> 00:20:30.150
Whitney Tchoula: And getting their reactions from that and how we actually learned through that study that for a lot of people instead of like help trying to get help.
00:20:30.420 --> 00:20:39.330
Whitney Tchoula: These images serve to make them feel like, Oh, well, I'm not that bad. So I can keep using math and I'll be fine. Or, you know, it just created a further kind of stigmatization
00:20:39.750 --> 00:20:46.050
Whitney Tchoula: When seeing, you know, similarly situated people looking so poorly and so yeah absolutely any way that we can
00:20:46.500 --> 00:20:59.520
Whitney Tchoula: Try to show them you want humanity of people and as many parts of their complex you know existence as possible. I think that's when we're getting to I guess where I morally feel like is my responsibility as a researcher.
00:21:00.660 --> 00:21:09.720
Tom Baker: That's it. This is a great time. I think the pot. The population is more receptive to this at any time in my life I think a lot of it has to do, maybe with
00:21:10.410 --> 00:21:19.380
Tom Baker: The opioid crisis affecting so many people in communities that may not be typically associated with having a drug problem.
00:21:19.770 --> 00:21:29.850
Tom Baker: Like what, like most majority white communities where for decades we've been told that these are you know quote unquote inner city problems black problems with the coded language about
00:21:30.300 --> 00:21:33.330
Tom Baker: The drug problem being centered in certain communities.
00:21:34.020 --> 00:21:47.370
Tom Baker: And people are realizing that this is not something. This is a social problem that affects all people from all walks of life. And I think people are because of that they're being more receptive to the to these types of ideas or no.
00:21:47.430 --> 00:21:58.290
Whitney Tchoula: I mean, you hit on everything, which is also like more of my life kind of criminological wise like I focus a lot on rural research and particularly white communities because I do think we have a responsibility to kind of push
00:21:58.800 --> 00:22:04.530
Whitney Tchoula: Past this criminology idea that all of the crime is situated in urban black communities right like
00:22:05.040 --> 00:22:14.190
Whitney Tchoula: I think that we definitely need to stop just rehashing the same topical areas, a million times that further submit and negative stereotype and don't really provide a lot of
00:22:14.580 --> 00:22:26.610
Whitney Tchoula: Real foundational background work about like actually naming racism is what's happening. And so for me, like, I see my responsibility in this whole thing is really focusing on those kind of untold stories to portray
00:22:27.330 --> 00:22:31.770
Whitney Tchoula: A more accurate depiction of what's happening with drugs, particularly in America.
00:22:32.430 --> 00:22:41.400
Whitney Tchoula: And because I think oftentimes as we see politics wise, right, like a lot of the folks that I'm speaking with feel that kind of political disenfranchisement disenfranchisement
00:22:42.120 --> 00:22:53.970
Whitney Tchoula: That might folks might not really think of when they think of white communities. And so how does that kind of shape their political affiliations and their experience in this world. I think it's all really interesting and important.
00:22:55.140 --> 00:23:03.000
Tom Baker: Yeah, I live in a rural community in the Ozarks. And you can. There's definitely a feeling of alienation might
00:23:03.510 --> 00:23:07.980
Tom Baker: Have just that they've been sort of a lot of communities feel like they've been left behind.
00:23:08.520 --> 00:23:14.550
Tom Baker: And they're not communities that we would typically like it's difficult. I think for Americans, because we're so steeped in
00:23:15.090 --> 00:23:31.560
Tom Baker: These ideas about who is, who does what, to get our minds around the fact that when I drive down the freeway and I see sewer bill billboards with pictures of middle aged white men saying your family loves you don't commit suicide.
00:23:32.160 --> 00:23:35.190
Tom Baker: And opioid ads with pictures of middle aged
00:23:35.550 --> 00:23:47.490
Tom Baker: You know white guys who've lost their jobs and feel emasculated that they can't provide for their you know that these these hardships going hurt so kudos for focusing on
00:23:47.520 --> 00:23:48.990
Tom Baker: Yes populations.
00:23:49.500 --> 00:23:50.460
Whitney Tchoula: Absolutely trying to
00:23:51.540 --> 00:23:53.250
Tom Baker: Can you, can you talk a little bit about
00:23:54.990 --> 00:24:05.520
Tom Baker: So one of the things I love about this paper as well, was this idea about how evocative photograph is, you know, we've already talked a little bit about it.
00:24:05.880 --> 00:24:15.840
Tom Baker: But can you maybe talk a little bit about why why it isn't. I think anyone who's listening or watching this knows, like the picture's worth 1000 words. Why, why is that
00:24:17.070 --> 00:24:24.180
Whitney Tchoula: Well, on the research side, you know, there's an abundance of research from a variety of fields that show that, you know, images, kind of triggers.
00:24:24.630 --> 00:24:32.400
Whitney Tchoula: Multi dimensions in our brains and all that stuff, you know, so there's, like, kind of like the more biological insights physical or psychological side of it.
00:24:33.150 --> 00:24:42.270
Whitney Tchoula: But just from a more from less so that academic side I think that images really pin you to a moment as well from inside the research perspective.
00:24:42.900 --> 00:24:47.130
Whitney Tchoula: The conversations and interviews I conducted when we had photos to use this kind of
00:24:48.090 --> 00:24:56.550
Whitney Tchoula: You know as tools to elicit information. It was much more personal, much more focused much more or less likely to kind of drift to, you know,
00:24:56.790 --> 00:25:05.670
Whitney Tchoula: Sometimes qualitative interviews can drift to places that you know might be nice but not always helpful and I think that kind of helped to bring those in and contain them.
00:25:06.000 --> 00:25:14.610
Whitney Tchoula: And then as far as images in the outputs which we think are really important as well. I think that the images can do a variety of things. But I think that they can really
00:25:15.360 --> 00:25:25.260
Whitney Tchoula: make people feel. And so I think people start feeling. And a lot of times we get a lot of critiques, you know, so they start feeling bad, and they think that we've done something bad. And maybe we have
00:25:25.740 --> 00:25:35.940
Whitney Tchoula: But also maybe those are feelings that need to be investigated because we bring a lot of bias into photos. When we see things we're bringing a lot of what we've seen before. What we think we should see into something
00:25:36.600 --> 00:25:44.430
Whitney Tchoula: So I think it's a really a personal kind of experience that we want to kind of add to a collective of the response.
00:25:44.820 --> 00:25:53.220
Whitney Tchoula: And we don't really want to make that we want to contextualize the images as much as possible so that we're not getting into poverty porn or any of these kind of super negative areas.
00:25:53.760 --> 00:25:56.790
Whitney Tchoula: But we do want to remind people that when they're viewing images.
00:25:57.030 --> 00:26:07.530
Whitney Tchoula: We can we as researchers have to do our very best to contextualize these images and to be responsible with our, you know, kind of power that we have in our depiction, but we also need to make people aware that
00:26:07.860 --> 00:26:22.800
Whitney Tchoula: Just because you feel bad. And these emotions are happening when you're seeing this, that it doesn't mean kind of that it should be hit Enter, that we should act in maternal paternalistic ways and maybe take the ability for these folks to content away rather I think it should be as
00:26:23.880 --> 00:26:27.330
Whitney Tchoula: My co author Jared Raglan he quoted her name in
00:26:28.650 --> 00:26:34.710
Whitney Tchoula: ariela azoulay she's a philosopher and she always says that picture shouldn't elicit sympathy, they should elicit action.
00:26:35.010 --> 00:26:43.170
Whitney Tchoula: So we kind of want our, our pictures to not just sit with feelings, but make you investigate those feelings and maybe research that the feelings that you're having
00:26:43.470 --> 00:26:56.040
Whitney Tchoula: Literally and investigate the problem that you have with it and then turn that into your own research. Yeah, I think that pictures are just very personal and powerful for a lot of the academic and kind of non so away.
00:26:56.910 --> 00:27:07.890
Tom Baker: Yeah, and I know like for me when I go to visit a relative that I haven't seen in a long time, or friend and they tell me, tell me a story that's wonderful. It's one thing
00:27:08.580 --> 00:27:11.730
Tom Baker: At a photo photo album and they show me a picture from that day.
00:27:12.540 --> 00:27:18.420
Tom Baker: And then we talk we talk about the day you can almost feel the sun on your face or whatever was happening.
00:27:18.930 --> 00:27:19.500
Whitney Tchoula: Yeah.
00:27:20.160 --> 00:27:32.310
Tom Baker: And I think it's like, like we just talked about, it's this, it's ancient like before humans were humans and before we could use words we were processing the world visually and our brains are just
00:27:32.940 --> 00:27:51.180
Tom Baker: I mean, what I see. That's what I think names are so powerful is this image, it tells you so much and then like you talked, we talked about this, that the person who's talking about the photograph is bringing all these parts of themselves into it but that's really the interesting stuff.
00:27:51.240 --> 00:27:57.450
Tom Baker: You know, like, yeah, what are you bringing when you see this picture. Like it's it's it's great i
00:27:58.590 --> 00:27:59.610
Tom Baker: really like the idea
00:28:00.540 --> 00:28:10.680
Whitney Tchoula: Of myself like I see like I you know I was involved in the research process. I wrote it all this stuff like so when I was kind of going through the article again refreshing for this interview podcast.
00:28:11.070 --> 00:28:27.180
Whitney Tchoula: I saw the images and like whole new ways times. Like, I started thinking about new things that hey, they should have occurred to me then, or this could have reflected this theme. You know, like I think that it, it also just elicit more creativity and more just like I guess I'm very thought
00:28:28.050 --> 00:28:40.440
Tom Baker: And I'm sure that we're going to talk about Alice, I'm sure. Alice and a few years if she were to look at these pictures they would probably have new meaning for her because she's going to be a different person. You know, like
00:28:40.830 --> 00:28:47.790
Tom Baker: And that's one of the things that these photos. Tell us show us is this cheap this this change and multiple. I'm sorry. Go ahead.
00:28:48.600 --> 00:28:50.310
Whitney Tchoula: No, you're exactly right. Totally.
00:28:51.090 --> 00:28:51.570
00:28:53.370 --> 00:29:08.940
Tom Baker: So there's there's another thing I wanted to talk about was these two there's these two women. There's Alice and Dawn there's there's more people but them specifically they they were approached with this project. And you guys were
00:29:10.410 --> 00:29:19.530
Tom Baker: You know, they, it's, it's a consensual activity and you get sort of one response or Alice and you get another response from dawn. Can you talk about the two different responses you got
00:29:20.430 --> 00:29:25.380
Whitney Tchoula: Sure, yeah. So Alice was all in pretty much from the start, you know,
00:29:26.040 --> 00:29:33.930
Whitney Tchoula: She was doing it right, so to speak, the images were talking to the themes that we wanted to cover, but they were also being artistic they were coming
00:29:34.530 --> 00:29:44.160
Whitney Tchoula: From kind of prompts. We gave her, but also from this like deeply personal spot. She directed our gaze to very important subjects that we would have otherwise completely miss honestly
00:29:44.490 --> 00:29:50.490
Whitney Tchoula: And so that was kind of like the ideal type as you see in the paper and then there was dawn, who, I think, you know, I think she enjoyed
00:29:51.120 --> 00:29:58.050
Whitney Tchoula: The ideal of it. I think, you know, taking pictures. Sounds fun. But it can be annoying. It can be a burden. It can be a homework, you know, and it can be
00:29:58.320 --> 00:30:04.020
Whitney Tchoula: And I think that's kind of where it in with her. I think the idea of it was cool. But when she actually sat down to kind of do this work.
00:30:04.830 --> 00:30:15.660
Whitney Tchoula: Or this task. It just, it didn't fit her as much. And I think that partly that was also because it wasn't a second nature for her to document her life in the way that it already was for Alice
00:30:16.710 --> 00:30:17.070
Whitney Tchoula: Okay.
00:30:17.430 --> 00:30:17.910
Tom Baker: And then
00:30:19.080 --> 00:30:26.970
Tom Baker: Some you you know you guys talked about, you know, some of the stuff you got from dawn was just you felt like you're kind of walking through the motions.
00:30:27.570 --> 00:30:41.670
Tom Baker: It would you say that it when you're doing this type of research that's really important. Like even maybe more so than other methods to have an eye like an active participant somebody who's really engaged. Is that, is that fair to say
00:30:42.690 --> 00:30:48.360
Whitney Tchoula: Oh yeah, you know, I think that's always the idea, though, you know, right, like when I go into qualitative standard interviews like
00:30:48.420 --> 00:30:54.750
Whitney Tchoula: There are some participants who were so into it, and then others it's like pulling teeth, you know, because maybe idea sounds well or maybe they wanted to do it, but that, you know,
00:30:55.200 --> 00:31:00.420
Whitney Tchoula: A lot can go into that. And so I think that's certainly the ideal at the same time, I think that
00:31:01.020 --> 00:31:10.260
Whitney Tchoula: You can't know that going into it. And so I wouldn't, I would never caution people to be like only pick young people to do this with her because you never know, and I don't ever want to engage in ages and like that.
00:31:10.710 --> 00:31:15.180
Whitney Tchoula: But I definitely think maybe actually asking questions about kind of their technological
00:31:15.750 --> 00:31:22.950
Whitney Tchoula: You would be a good kind of screening mechanisms, especially if you're going to invest money. I know some folks who do some of this work like actually get kind of grants.
00:31:23.400 --> 00:31:36.930
Whitney Tchoula: By cell phones to provide. And so in that sense, obviously you want some you want to know that people are going to do it. But yeah, don't just target old people, because I think are older folks, or I'm sorry, younger folks and exclude older folks, if I do think that there's ways to do it.
00:31:37.890 --> 00:31:47.430
Tom Baker: So, maybe more, more like feeling people out and we can get it week cards intuitive. You know this person is going to be sending me pick, you know, get a feel for people
00:31:48.090 --> 00:31:52.680
Whitney Tchoula: Yeah. And then with the photo voice. If you read, Dr. Brown and stuff. She talked a lot about
00:31:53.310 --> 00:32:06.000
Whitney Tchoula: Ways to do it when you already have a pre existing group so groups that are already meeting or already know each other and kind of introducing it there could also kind of already have buy in. So there's that. That's another really good tool. I think maybe
00:32:07.980 --> 00:32:12.030
Whitney Tchoula: Approaching or talking to other social groups that are already collected
00:32:12.780 --> 00:32:13.200
00:32:14.520 --> 00:32:25.800
Tom Baker: So when I, when I first discovered, discovered the talk, or the paper. I love it. I appreciate it. But I have to admit I was like a little uncomfortable. I was like,
00:32:26.070 --> 00:32:26.700
Tom Baker: Wow, like
00:32:27.330 --> 00:32:33.900
Tom Baker: Because in the paper their pictures of people's faces someone's face and there's
00:32:35.310 --> 00:32:38.700
Tom Baker: You guys, you guys talk about this, this is this is a person who
00:32:40.230 --> 00:32:49.470
Tom Baker: Is exposing themselves in a very making themselves very vulnerable in a variety of ways, like there are pictures of the
00:32:50.310 --> 00:33:02.850
Tom Baker: Talk of drug use and people have children. They have jobs, they have their future. And it's a brave act to to move forward. Let's. Can you talk a little bit about
00:33:03.600 --> 00:33:17.280
Tom Baker: The process of consent and how you handled compensation. I know in America. In America, it's very common to compensate participants in studies. Talk a little bit how you handled consent and compensation in this study.
00:33:18.120 --> 00:33:27.900
Whitney Tchoula: Yeah, certainly. And I think that it's worth noting. Again, just a reminder. We did a partnership. So when you do interdisciplinary research. Sometimes the ethics that guide both
00:33:28.500 --> 00:33:38.160
Whitney Tchoula: are little different. And so, in this sense as criminologists, we went into it with the, you know, kind of ethical understanding that we believe that it's, as you said, it's a common thing to
00:33:38.520 --> 00:33:47.460
Whitney Tchoula: Compensate participants for their time as an interview or a survey, so to speak. So that was our ethical principle, we would never want to ask them to provide us time or
00:33:47.880 --> 00:33:53.610
Whitney Tchoula: You know the deep, deep and stories of their life for free, so to speak. So we wanted to compensate them financially.
00:33:54.120 --> 00:34:00.120
Whitney Tchoula: We also talked about compensating them and other ways. So while we were up there, you know, collecting data if they needed a ride somewhere.
00:34:00.870 --> 00:34:11.160
Whitney Tchoula: Or things like that, you know, finding as many ways to be useful in a setting as possible when you're kind of reaping so many benefits. So that was our kind of point of it we would also pay
00:34:12.000 --> 00:34:20.700
Whitney Tchoula: Folks for photo photo Alyssa taken interviews. However, we would never pay anyone to actually take a photo because that's against
00:34:21.300 --> 00:34:30.900
Whitney Tchoula: The photo ethic that govern Jared dragons career. And so he went through his own IRB and his own process. And so we would tell the participants, you can do in
00:34:31.740 --> 00:34:43.800
Whitney Tchoula: An audio interview only and be paid. You do not have to do the the photography portion. You can if you want to, we would only ask one and if they did agree they had to find two completely separate form.
00:34:45.210 --> 00:34:54.930
Whitney Tchoula: And if we had kind of like what's called ongoing consent. So throughout our entire research project if anyone wanted to resend their
00:34:55.560 --> 00:35:04.680
Whitney Tchoula: Their consent, we would definitely honor that we had. I wrote it down. We had 29 folks who went on with having photos in our project.
00:35:05.430 --> 00:35:15.900
Whitney Tchoula: To people asked to remove them. So initially we had 31 so two folks after move them, we immediately did. It's not a situation to where we asked questions about why we would just stop.
00:35:16.920 --> 00:35:23.940
Whitney Tchoula: But that only goes so far right, that's just for the research process once things are published once things get online or at professional conferences.
00:35:24.720 --> 00:35:35.910
Whitney Tchoula: There's really not much we can do right and so it was very critical that before a photo was taken. We one made sure that they were exhibiting any signs of intoxication like nodding out
00:35:36.780 --> 00:35:50.670
Whitney Tchoula: We can't guarantee that people weren't intoxicated right like this was their life. We didn't see them do it. So, but, to our knowledge they were not intoxicated and we tried to be as liberal as possible with telling them where the these photos might end up
00:35:51.750 --> 00:36:00.690
Whitney Tchoula: Even like we would say the most random thing possible just as in the far flung possibility. Like, what if it showed up here. What if it, you know, and having those routine conversation.
00:36:01.560 --> 00:36:08.370
Whitney Tchoula: And that's how we would do it. We wanted to respect the fact that they were adults and that although they're using drugs. It is not our job to be their parent
00:36:09.000 --> 00:36:17.130
Whitney Tchoula: It's their job to make informed choices about their life. And so we followed the law. We followed IRB and we followed what we think is right. As far as
00:36:18.150 --> 00:36:24.600
Whitney Tchoula: Trusting people's autonomy to make decisions while still trying to be as responsible as possible about what that means.
00:36:25.830 --> 00:36:30.360
Tom Baker: And you guys talked about like these types of venues. You know, people might get this paper discusses
00:36:31.440 --> 00:36:33.780
Tom Baker: On the internet and video, who knows.
00:36:34.710 --> 00:36:39.720
Whitney Tchoula: It's actually one of my participants today and said I was going on this podcast. Is there any update. She wants to
00:36:39.720 --> 00:36:50.400
Whitney Tchoula: Provide. So some of the participants know like a lot more than some of the other ones right like we've been able to keep contact with them and send them the literal outputs to be like, hey, this is how it showing up.
00:36:51.030 --> 00:37:00.030
Whitney Tchoula: This is I recorded some conference presentations and send them. And so we haven't had anybody asked for it to, you know, like, oh, can we take this back or anything like that.
00:37:01.200 --> 00:37:12.570
Tom Baker: And I don't have this feeling when i when i want i wanted to do this and I thought you know i makes me uncomfortable, but that i thought you know who the hell am I to say you're
00:37:13.200 --> 00:37:18.540
Tom Baker: You wanted to share this. This was something in it sounds. It sounds like Alice. Alice was
00:37:18.990 --> 00:37:26.970
Tom Baker: Wanted to do this. This was something that was important to her. So who am I to say, No, I'm not gonna, I'm not going to share it if she has said, I want to share this
00:37:27.510 --> 00:37:46.350
Tom Baker: And. And I think one of the things about it was, I was like, well, it's going to be shared on YouTube. And I thought about what is it about that that bothers me. And I think it might be that I was okay in a journal because it's these educated people who
00:37:46.680 --> 00:37:47.340
Tom Baker: Are going to
00:37:47.580 --> 00:37:53.040
Tom Baker: Consume it in a very responsible way. It was like I was being very class, a class.
00:37:53.460 --> 00:38:02.460
Tom Baker: I was thinking, well, some but there's some person who this is intended for. I'm thinking when I do this, I'm thinking someone's interested in these subjects are driving to work and
00:38:02.790 --> 00:38:16.290
Tom Baker: Then I can read the paper, they want to listen to it or maybe they want to read this leads them to read the paper and just making it more accessible. So I was like, I don't want to make it more accessible to certain types of people that doesn't make a heck of a lot of sense. Did you guys
00:38:17.460 --> 00:38:18.360
Whitney Tchoula: It makes it very
00:38:18.390 --> 00:38:28.980
Whitney Tchoula: A lot of sense to me because that's kind of the logic. I was trying to catch myself up on as well during the process, but I think like you I arrived at this conclusion that ultimately
00:38:30.180 --> 00:38:38.760
Whitney Tchoula: I have to one be doing my due diligence to be an ethical researcher to not be coercive to participants to fully informed, to the best of my ability to follow all the IRB.
00:38:39.270 --> 00:38:47.520
Whitney Tchoula: As well as different like feminist research methods protocols kind of things right. So on that and I have a big responsibility to do my job. And if you can do it well.
00:38:47.790 --> 00:38:52.620
Whitney Tchoula: But then there's the other side of it where I don't want, I think that stigma is so
00:38:53.160 --> 00:38:58.920
Whitney Tchoula: Deep in this country about what it means to be someone who uses drugs and I don't want to ever contribute to that.
00:38:59.250 --> 00:39:07.500
Whitney Tchoula: Stigma by hiding someone's truth or reality or depiction of self, because I think, Oh, this is so terrible. And someone might think something awful that person right
00:39:07.860 --> 00:39:16.350
Whitney Tchoula: For me, my hope is that if they think something awful of that person when they see it that they investigate those feelings internally and do something with that and
00:39:17.310 --> 00:39:26.910
Whitney Tchoula: Not necessarily worry about worry about the police implications and that sort of thing and jobs, as you mentioned, for them, but not worrying about kind of
00:39:28.350 --> 00:39:36.720
Whitney Tchoula: I can't worry about what people are going to think about them in that sense when I've done my job. And when I feel like this stigma is something they're putting on them and not something I'm subjecting them to
00:39:37.680 --> 00:39:38.070
00:39:39.540 --> 00:39:43.890
Tom Baker: I'm sorry I was, look, my eyes were wondering because I'm getting some some images together.
00:39:44.430 --> 00:39:44.850
Whitney Tchoula: Yeah.
00:39:45.840 --> 00:39:56.700
Tom Baker: I wanted to just if it's okay, is just to show a few images and then maybe if you could just talk me through what you're what you're seeing
00:39:57.720 --> 00:39:58.890
Tom Baker: me pull this up here.
00:40:06.840 --> 00:40:07.410
Tom Baker: Okay.
00:40:08.490 --> 00:40:09.630
Tom Baker: Are you able to see it. Okay.
00:40:10.230 --> 00:40:11.340
Whitney Tchoula: Yep, I can see that. Great.
00:40:12.210 --> 00:40:22.590
Tom Baker: OK, so the first the first picture here can just like so this is this a photo. This is a photograph that Alice took because I correct
00:40:23.070 --> 00:40:25.650
Whitney Tchoula: Yes, that's correct. She sent it to us unsolicited
00:40:26.520 --> 00:40:41.100
Tom Baker: OK. And then so you guys got this photograph and you sat down with her and during the interview you. You put it out. What was it that. What about it. So she said, You assume, so I'm assuming variety of photographs. What was it about this that drew your attention to it.
00:40:42.480 --> 00:40:47.130
Whitney Tchoula: Well, to be quite frank like visually, it struck us right away, right, like it was
00:40:48.090 --> 00:40:59.070
Whitney Tchoula: Artistic it kind of like already captured some of the themes that we knew about her right they struggle between drug use and her daughter's name on that mirror, you know, and we knew the tension that she was
00:40:59.940 --> 00:41:06.360
Whitney Tchoula: Facing at that time of her life, she was really decided she had, you know, deciding whether or not to really go sober.
00:41:07.200 --> 00:41:12.750
Whitney Tchoula: Or not right and kind of doing the starts and stops. So immediately we see this or like oh my gosh, you know,
00:41:13.320 --> 00:41:19.890
Whitney Tchoula: But then when we had that interview with her and she was able to explain it even further in her own words and talk about how you know
00:41:20.430 --> 00:41:28.530
Whitney Tchoula: People think when you say Matthews. I'm sure a lot of things come to mind that society has told us about what meth user looks like an act like or whatever.
00:41:29.280 --> 00:41:39.870
Whitney Tchoula: And for all of the negative kind of stereotypes. One thing is true about folks who are struggling with, you know, in the throes of self described addictions, right, is that they feel like they're caught up in a lot of chaos.
00:41:40.350 --> 00:41:50.190
Whitney Tchoula: And so she felt like she was in a complete chaos always in a haze, but still saw her heart underneath it and saw herself as a mother. First he thought herself as someone who
00:41:50.610 --> 00:41:59.160
Whitney Tchoula: You know, could find her way back. And so I think it was a really great way to see her resilient show up throughout the course of the interview and just the project, more broadly,
00:42:00.150 --> 00:42:02.040
Tom Baker: And so can you see my cursor right now.
00:42:02.610 --> 00:42:07.170
Tom Baker: Yeah. So right here you see the writing. I'm indicating what does that say
00:42:08.070 --> 00:42:09.990
Whitney Tchoula: So that's, I love you and her daughter's name.
00:42:10.830 --> 00:42:17.880
Tom Baker: This is, I love you and her daughter's name, and this is a this is a razor blade, obviously. And this is a heart. And what is this is the daughter's name.
00:42:18.900 --> 00:42:21.900
Whitney Tchoula: Yeah, so, so I don't want to say the daughter's name.
00:42:21.960 --> 00:42:22.560
Whitney Tchoula: Right, but you
00:42:23.940 --> 00:42:24.150
Whitney Tchoula: Know,
00:42:24.540 --> 00:42:30.570
Whitney Tchoula: You're totally good. And then the stuff is Adderall, and I believe in methamphetamine combined and then
00:42:30.900 --> 00:42:35.400
Whitney Tchoula: The razor blade is also because she struggled with self harm as well as obviously cutting the
00:42:35.910 --> 00:42:50.340
Whitney Tchoula: Cutting the drugs down so it was kind of her life on a mere plate. She also had an obsession with mirrors, which is not uncommon for a lot of folks who use drugs. And so again, a lot of the elements that she would talk about frequently, she just captured in one image.
00:42:51.450 --> 00:42:57.570
Tom Baker: What, what was it about the mirror. Did she say specifically like what what fascinated her about the mirror.
00:42:58.560 --> 00:43:05.700
Whitney Tchoula: Well, I think it was two part right. I think there becomes a kind of obsession. When you're using math with all these stereotypes and you think you're going to physically decay.
00:43:06.540 --> 00:43:15.000
Whitney Tchoula: Or maybe you are physically decaying in some ways, and so folks want to keep a, you know, an eye on that want to maintain their, their hygiene and their physicality and that sort of thing.
00:43:15.600 --> 00:43:29.970
Whitney Tchoula: But I think a little beyond that is for her. Specifically, a lot of times for mere her, you know, doing her makeup and having kind of a private space in a bathroom was really the only privacy. She often had and the only place that was really hurt.
00:43:30.660 --> 00:43:36.390
Whitney Tchoula: So I think it became about just like the mirror, being able to be a place of reflection literally and symbolically for her.
00:43:37.500 --> 00:43:43.020
Tom Baker: And she was at this time having some difficulty with some family issues as well as I. Right.
00:43:43.860 --> 00:43:53.490
Whitney Tchoula: Yeah, so she was struggling her family was obviously not happy that she was engaged in drug use and was struggling to maintain custody of her daughter so she was very
00:43:53.820 --> 00:44:09.630
Whitney Tchoula: Torn apart from her family at the time she was living. She was not homeless, so to speak, but definitely housing insecure bouncing around from place to place. So her life because of the drugs and outside of drugs was just what she what she has described this chaos.
00:44:10.980 --> 00:44:20.280
Tom Baker: So this woman is in this chaotic situation and the mirror is the place where she can go to find like peace. Peace.
00:44:20.850 --> 00:44:22.290
Whitney Tchoula: And her inner self, I think.
00:44:22.650 --> 00:44:24.390
Whitney Tchoula: Could be more than that.
00:44:25.470 --> 00:44:35.070
Tom Baker: Well, and, and you guys, you get this photograph. It's just visually striking and and then this is her telling you all of these things. So the
00:44:35.490 --> 00:44:48.210
Tom Baker: Razor blade relates to these feelings of self harm the the writing is about this love of her child and wanting the child to be a part of her than this image that she sees, but she has this
00:44:48.600 --> 00:45:01.560
Tom Baker: To drugs. And so this this woman is is packing, just like you said everything. Not everything but a huge chunks of her life into one image.
00:45:02.190 --> 00:45:07.080
Whitney Tchoula: Exactly, which is why we highlight her is obviously like the ideal can't be kind of participant because it was just
00:45:07.350 --> 00:45:14.400
Whitney Tchoula: There were so many images like this to where she was just very skilled at saying what she wanted to say through an image, but then being able to, like, really.
00:45:15.270 --> 00:45:28.230
Whitney Tchoula: Elaborate on it later. And I think that it was even also interesting because she kept really noting that her daughter was in the forefront. Right. So all this other stuff is there, but the thing that's like most important are closest to her heart is her daughter always
00:45:29.850 --> 00:45:43.890
Tom Baker: And so she's trying to like make her way back to this. And there's a struggle. It's okay, it's, I mean, it's very, very rich and and like like you guys say this would take a lot of words to
00:45:44.820 --> 00:45:57.780
Tom Baker: To say, but it's difficult for a person to get their whole life and put it down or express themselves with words. And it may be easier to just to do it visually.
00:45:58.740 --> 00:46:06.180
Whitney Tchoula: And to your point, we actually did experiment with the diary. So we, I think, at one point, we even like got her diary or she had one, something like that. I don't remember the details.
00:46:06.450 --> 00:46:18.990
Whitney Tchoula: But we were like, hey, you know, when we're not present for interviews and you want to tell us. I'm write it up but didn't really work for her it wasn't she did some, you know, so, but but like you said the camera was really her way of doing it and doing it well. She was a very
00:46:19.020 --> 00:46:19.650
Whitney Tchoula: strong candidate.
00:46:20.280 --> 00:46:31.740
Tom Baker: And some people are just a visual visual people. Some people love words but some people they have just as much to say. But they just they see it and say it with with images.
00:46:32.250 --> 00:46:38.910
Whitney Tchoula: 100% and at the time she was using drugs. So her voice was like symbolically, but also literally kind of very much she was
00:46:39.240 --> 00:46:49.200
Whitney Tchoula: Much Meeker of a person like very quiet and since she has quit using drugs now she's speaking so much more. So maybe photographs wouldn't be the best route to ask her to produce her story with now.
00:46:49.500 --> 00:46:56.880
Whitney Tchoula: That she is so much more confident and is so much more willing to use her literal voice, but at the time I think it was an ideal medium for her.
00:46:57.780 --> 00:47:08.880
Tom Baker: Right, and that's that's just to touch again on change like we're never the same person, like the person I am today is different than the person I was five years ago in five years from now. Who knows who I'll be if I'm still around.
00:47:10.020 --> 00:47:11.580
Whitney Tchoula: Yeah, fingers crossed. I hope you are.
00:47:12.390 --> 00:47:19.080
Tom Baker: So, thank you. I hope you aren't you can I, I'm gonna, I'm gonna go. Do you have any final thoughts on this one before I go to the next picture.
00:47:19.710 --> 00:47:20.010
00:47:21.840 --> 00:47:28.350
Tom Baker: So can you talk a little bit about this one. This was, there was this a photograph you guys took over this photograph that she took
00:47:29.220 --> 00:47:30.690
Whitney Tchoula: She took this one actually
00:47:31.380 --> 00:47:41.190
Whitney Tchoula: So again, another one that she was feeling shame she was feeling guilt to feeling embarrassment. She wanted to disappear. So all of those things can literally be seen and the fact that she chose
00:47:41.460 --> 00:47:51.300
Whitney Tchoula: To completely give a silhouette of herself. You can't see any of the physical Details of her she feels like she's you know just alone in a corner and at the time in her life, she was really struggling
00:47:51.810 --> 00:48:00.420
Whitney Tchoula: She was in a very kind of toxic relationship with a boyfriend at the time, and he just wasn't great for her self esteem. I mean, he was struggling as well but
00:48:00.690 --> 00:48:09.600
Whitney Tchoula: He would be very jealous and that would definitely triggered her shame issues and guilt and weaponize her past against her, and some of her darkest moments. And so she was just in this House with him.
00:48:09.900 --> 00:48:20.340
Whitney Tchoula: And with his friends who are also using drugs constantly felt for her like she didn't really have a place to belong in a positive sense. She was just very shamed and stuck in this rut, so to speak.
00:48:21.300 --> 00:48:31.590
Tom Baker: And and what was it that that drew you guys to this one. Again, I don't know if this is, this might be just the same answer for every, every time I asked, it was visually striking or was it
00:48:32.490 --> 00:48:37.110
Tom Baker: Was there something in particular that drew you guys attention to use it as a tool to elicit responses from hmm
00:48:37.980 --> 00:48:44.400
Whitney Tchoula: This one wasn't as visually striking in the sense of also when we go to produce this and publications and printouts like it's
00:48:44.670 --> 00:48:51.930
Whitney Tchoula: It actually is not great. Yeah, we kind of talked about that in our, in our paper about how sometimes it's not always the best to use
00:48:52.200 --> 00:48:57.240
Whitney Tchoula: The most visually striking images because that can kind of take you away from the most mess around like important
00:48:57.750 --> 00:49:08.730
Whitney Tchoula: Conceptually images. And so this was one of those ones I think was more so important conceptually and symbolically, because I think it really speaks to what she wanted us to know that she felt like
00:49:09.120 --> 00:49:21.240
Whitney Tchoula: Which was alone, which was a shame, which was guilty and and i think that that's why we ultimately decided on that. Also because we spoke with her through these interview processes and it was something that was really evocative for her.
00:49:22.380 --> 00:49:23.760
Tom Baker: Okay, and
00:49:25.050 --> 00:49:38.010
Tom Baker: Do you have any, any other things about this particular photograph. I thought it was one of the things I thought was interesting is how she was able to make it like it's she's completely blocked. I think it is visual I maybe I
00:49:38.310 --> 00:49:52.050
Tom Baker: Don't have good taste. But I think it is visually striking it almost is as if she's like cut out of the picture. Like I feel like there should be an image here that's been almost like like Photoshop removed.
00:49:52.380 --> 00:49:53.970
Whitney Tchoula: And she was just this is with a cell phone.
00:49:55.080 --> 00:50:06.420
Whitney Tchoula: Okay, I can see that now like see like I feel like photos in general and just like co production. Right. And I wouldn't have even thought that before having a million times. But I totally see that now. Yeah.
00:50:06.510 --> 00:50:06.930
Tom Baker: Yes.
00:50:06.960 --> 00:50:09.420
Tom Baker: So maybe I'm just a master photography
00:50:10.380 --> 00:50:10.920
Tom Baker: I didn't know
00:50:11.520 --> 00:50:16.260
Whitney Tchoula: You need to do a project now but now I think that's great. And she would fool around with like lights.
00:50:16.260 --> 00:50:25.530
Whitney Tchoula: And like she certainly would do angles and all that. So I'm I'm certain that that was probably all the deep stuff that you said about that was imbued in her decision to take this one.
00:50:26.400 --> 00:50:36.660
Tom Baker: I'm because I'm I'm certainly no artist by any stretch, but I when I see these pictures I I think of her like as being a very artistic person. I never met her.
00:50:36.990 --> 00:50:44.910
Tom Baker: But I just she seems like a very artistic person and please if you could send me a link to your, your partner's
00:50:44.940 --> 00:50:45.930
Whitney Tchoula: The photo journalist.
00:50:45.990 --> 00:50:59.130
Tom Baker: Or the photo documentation, if you could send me a link to his work, so that if anyone wants to check out some images. I'm we're just focusing on her her images today, but I'll add that to the link down below so people can check that out as well.
00:50:59.760 --> 00:51:00.720
Whitney Tchoula: Perfect, yeah well
00:51:01.830 --> 00:51:08.640
Tom Baker: I'm just gonna go on to the next one. And yeah, so can you, can you tell me this is this is obviously like a typical selfie.
00:51:09.570 --> 00:51:14.580
Tom Baker: She. This is, again, this is something that she sent to you that was this solicited or unsolicited miss
00:51:15.090 --> 00:51:23.160
Whitney Tchoula: Technically solicited because this is coming at the end, we knew we were writing this paper we knew that we, you know, she had a lot had changed in her life. At this point, she had
00:51:23.580 --> 00:51:26.520
Whitney Tchoula: Quit using methamphetamine, and she could I forget exactly how many months.
00:51:26.880 --> 00:51:41.460
Whitney Tchoula: She had been sober at this point for a mess, but it was quite, you know, like, a significant number of months. And so we wanted her to be able to provide a picture that she believed kind of represented her, so to speak. Now, and this is the one that she chose. And when we asked her why
00:51:42.540 --> 00:51:45.090
Whitney Tchoula: It was because she felt empowered in this photo, she was
00:51:45.540 --> 00:51:58.950
Whitney Tchoula: No longer using drugs. She felt on the path to getting her daughter back which spoiler. She has custody of her she shared custody of her daughter now. So things are dramatically improved in her life. She's been free from mess for, I think, over three years now about
00:52:00.030 --> 00:52:11.280
Whitney Tchoula: Doing terms. Yeah. And this is really in her journey and she just said she felt empowered she felt like she was finally kind of like fighting, so to speak, to get her daughter back and doing the things that you're supposed to do. I think she had a job that she was feeling good about here.
00:52:12.330 --> 00:52:17.400
Whitney Tchoula: And so it was just, again, like you said, it's a typical selfie. She's I think 2324 assists period.
00:52:17.730 --> 00:52:23.760
Whitney Tchoula: So it's just what I would see when any of my friends right are posting photos on Instagram, about to go on a job interview or do whatever
00:52:24.090 --> 00:52:37.800
Whitney Tchoula: And so I think the beauty of this photo is that it is so quote unquote normal and that it was something that she identified as someone who doesn't really like photos and didn't like seeing herself she really liked the photo of herself. And so we of course we had to do that.
00:52:39.090 --> 00:52:49.740
Tom Baker: Yeah, I mean, when I, when I look at this, I and when I looked at the other photographs and then I look at this one. This one stood out because everything else that it looked like that. I saw that she she said was
00:52:50.970 --> 00:53:05.460
Tom Baker: There was something that was intentional. Like there was something there is intentionality like she she was trying to tell me something with what she chose to do. And with this one. It is just like
00:53:07.080 --> 00:53:07.920
Tom Baker: So,
00:53:09.630 --> 00:53:11.790
Tom Baker: I don't want to use the word generic but
00:53:11.850 --> 00:53:27.090
Tom Baker: Yeah, like it's it's what every woman, her age, I would expect to find on their phone. And I think that that like that's the intention. It's that I am you're asking how she is she saying like, I feel
00:53:27.600 --> 00:53:28.980
Whitney Tchoula: I don't know if I'm yeah no
00:53:29.160 --> 00:53:30.900
Whitney Tchoula: No hundred percent right
00:53:31.770 --> 00:53:33.120
Tom Baker: Um, so
00:53:33.780 --> 00:53:36.090
Whitney Tchoula: She would use that word a lot and I don't know if you saw the
00:53:36.090 --> 00:53:48.450
Whitney Tchoula: Presentation that coke gave where he actually titled it like quest for normality. But that's exactly what you're honing in on exactly i think what her kind of life process intentionally was to get normal. I hate to use that word, but
00:53:49.320 --> 00:54:04.350
Tom Baker: No. So sorry but you know that but i think that's that's something like sometimes. Sometimes I feel like that that we we say, well, we don't want. We don't want to use that word, but that's that's what for her. That's what
00:54:04.350 --> 00:54:11.460
Whitney Tchoula: Exactly 100% exact her normal right might be different from mine or yours, but her idea of normal looks like.
00:54:11.670 --> 00:54:16.410
Whitney Tchoula: Being gainfully employed having her daughter being present for her family being a good granddaughter, you know,
00:54:16.590 --> 00:54:25.920
Whitney Tchoula: And sometimes I think for myself and like all these are kind of stereotypical gender roles, whatever else. But that's not my normal and it's not for us to say whether or not this is a great norm or whatever, right, it's about
00:54:26.190 --> 00:54:34.200
Whitney Tchoula: I think empowering people to live the life that they want for themselves and it as my job as a researcher is empowering people to be able to tell that story.
00:54:35.400 --> 00:54:43.860
Tom Baker: Right. And like like said it might not be that I or somebody aspires to be quote unquote normal but
00:54:44.130 --> 00:54:44.520
Whitney Tchoula: Yes.
00:54:44.610 --> 00:55:01.590
Tom Baker: But there are people who that that is like, they're like, you know, I just I want these these things, things that mean some people may take for granted or other people may reject and and who the F are we to say who can decide what they want to, you know, do with with with their life.
00:55:02.910 --> 00:55:09.660
Tom Baker: And so you. So you're saying that she's doing doing very well, and she's, she's she keeping track of sort of what
00:55:10.380 --> 00:55:14.220
Tom Baker: where this goes. And you guys keeping her abreast of what you're doing with the research.
00:55:15.120 --> 00:55:22.470
Whitney Tchoula: I'll be honest, you know, she's not like super into it. This is boring stuff. But I always tried to, like, we definitely try to keep abreast of
00:55:22.860 --> 00:55:29.460
Whitney Tchoula: Like kind of what type of things are happening like work conference after conference gets boring so she gets what that looks like now.
00:55:30.120 --> 00:55:33.030
Whitney Tchoula: But I wanted to tell her about the podcast. It's not something I typically do
00:55:33.420 --> 00:55:39.840
Whitney Tchoula: And it's something that she'll be able to kind of listen to and maybe it won't be as boring for her as a typical kind of research output. So
00:55:40.230 --> 00:55:50.640
Whitney Tchoula: Yeah. We try to keep her in the loop. And again, unfortunately we can't have quite as closer relationship with every participant, you know, keep track of everyone and everybody doesn't want that. Right.
00:55:51.480 --> 00:56:05.790
Whitney Tchoula: So, but it's been great, particularly with Alice because we have been able to just see such as, you know, see her live out her goals and her dreams in that sense. And it's been super rewarding on our end. And I think it's been at least somewhat entertaining for her along the ride.
00:56:07.320 --> 00:56:07.920
00:56:09.570 --> 00:56:21.120
Tom Baker: Can you talk a little bit about what you're doing now. Like, so you're you've got a couple of a couple of years left. What do you plan on on doing. Do you want to stay in an academia.
00:56:22.260 --> 00:56:32.670
Whitney Tchoula: I do. Yeah, I think that I love research and I love teaching both. I mean, why not, why not just sent you have to love that really fit in and provide great stability and opportunity.
00:56:33.060 --> 00:56:46.080
Whitney Tchoula: Maybe it's just me being nerdy, but I think it's one of the jobs where every day. I feel like I can kind of live out my ethical values and all that stuff. So I'm pretty happy, you know, there's a lot of problems in academia, but I'm pretty happy with this, with this field.
00:56:46.830 --> 00:56:59.550
Tom Baker: Okay. And then what it. Can I ask what your what your plans are for a dissertation. Have you, are you the point now where you feel confident, saying, Here's what my general, what we can expect from here.
00:57:00.180 --> 00:57:06.540
Whitney Tchoula: Well, Tom, you know, I was I was, and then co mid 19 happened, I was so jazzed about my dissertation.
00:57:07.590 --> 00:57:16.770
Whitney Tchoula: So that won't happen. So I was going to do a comparative peace between rural and urban individual to use math and kind of what that looks like. But we can't do that now. So I'm
00:57:17.460 --> 00:57:25.770
Whitney Tchoula: I'm not back at phase one, it'll definitely relate to mass market or folks who use math in that sort of thing. So I have a ballpark range but
00:57:27.030 --> 00:57:30.030
Whitney Tchoula: Kind of back on square two or three. But yeah, we'll see.
00:57:30.480 --> 00:57:30.960
Whitney Tchoula: How it goes
00:57:31.500 --> 00:57:42.180
Tom Baker: So you'll continue to focus on qualitative methodology focusing on drug markets and it sort of giving people an opportunity to present their reality to the academic world.
00:57:43.020 --> 00:57:51.570
Whitney Tchoula: That's, that's where I'm at right now and you know in general. I also think I want to return to photo methods, but it's been difficult to do that as a grad student
00:57:52.080 --> 00:58:02.220
Whitney Tchoula: The IRB process with visual methods is difficult. So I want to circle back specifically to them once. Hopefully I get a job and everything. It's comin you know fall out isn't too awful for us but
00:58:02.610 --> 00:58:15.330
Whitney Tchoula: Yeah, so I want to get back to photo methods. But right now, that's really been put on pause and I've been doing stuff with synthetic marijuana use and kind of that thing. And as well as. Yeah, so I'll be doing drug research for a while and see where it takes me
00:58:16.290 --> 00:58:30.750
Tom Baker: Okay, well I'm looking forward to seeing where you end up. And what you end up doing. I think you're fascinating person. I really enjoyed chatting with you. Thank you so much. Do you have any other, any parting words or any anything you'd like to leave this honor
00:58:31.680 --> 00:58:38.460
Whitney Tchoula: And the only thing that I didn't mention that I would be remiss if I didn't as far as like ethics of this stuff on one thing to consider is like
00:58:38.970 --> 00:58:52.200
Whitney Tchoula: Face facial recognition has become really relevant to the ethical consideration of these projects. I don't have answers to these, but I just want to complicate you know it's not always that simple. So folks will want to definitely wrestle with that reality.
00:58:53.280 --> 00:59:06.570
Whitney Tchoula: As well as the reality of just in general, it can provide some opportunity for police or whatever else to just think through the problems. Think about how you're going to manage metadata and all this stuff decode did identify
00:59:07.470 --> 00:59:14.370
Whitney Tchoula: It does come with sticky ethical obligations that maybe are beyond the typical but I think it's worth it. And I think that
00:59:14.730 --> 00:59:24.660
Whitney Tchoula: Slow researches and says you know not what we do. We like to get it out fast, but with this kind of stuff be slow. Be patient be diligent and I think that can be profound.
00:59:25.800 --> 00:59:32.850
Tom Baker: Yeah, I mean, you're asking people to be like extremely vulnerable and they're they're they're really putting themselves at risk. I think this
00:59:33.210 --> 00:59:43.920
Tom Baker: This woman. She's just very brave very brave thing to do without this way to represent something that is so is so stigmatized. So I think you're right.
00:59:44.280 --> 00:59:49.170
Tom Baker: There's a, there's a lot of extra sort of obligation that would come with this kind of research.
00:59:50.010 --> 01:00:00.570
Tom Baker: And I hope you have an opportunity to learn more about it and to do more work like this and I just wanted to thank you again. Have a great night and and look forward to talking to you again. Yeah.
01:00:00.600 --> 01:00:02.400
Whitney Tchoula: Thanks time. Have a good day. Good night.