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. 2001 Mar;32(4):21-41.

Portraits of Pain and Promise: A Photographic Study of Bosnian Youth

  • PMID: 11928299

Portraits of Pain and Promise: A Photographic Study of Bosnian Youth

H Berman et al. Can J Nurs Res. .


In the early 1990s, war erupted in Bosnia and Herzegovina, forcing large numbers of people to flee their homes and country, abandoning their culture and all that was familiar to them. For the children, often described as war's "innocent victims," the conflict and subsequent uprooting represented a dramatic end to their peaceful lives. Although many were fortunate enough to escape with their families and resettle amid more peaceful circumstances, there is considerable evidence that refugee youth are forever changed by their exposure to war and that the pain of war does not end when the fighting is over. This paper presents the results of a study with 7 Bosnian children, aged 11-14, who came to Canada as refugees during the 1990s. The everyday challenges and struggles faced by this group were explored using an innovative research method called photo novella. A secondary purpose of the research was to evaluate the merits and limitations of photo novella as a method for capturing children's perspectives and feelings. Participants were given disposable cameras and asked to take pictures of important people, places, and events. The meaning of the photographs was then explored through a dialogic process the researchers call phototalk. The findings revealed that while these children had many strengths, they continued to struggle to understand the events that so profoundly changed their lives. The results and the implications for nurses are discussed.

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