Summary In the context of a pilot study on the role that gender relations play in the transmission of HIV in Zimbabwe, this paper explores participatory diagramming, an exciting qualitative research technique largely under-utilized by geographers. It argues for a deployment of the technique within an action research epistemology in order that it might facilitate the reflection and action of participants in praxis, not simply the production of nuanced multiple truths in text Such an approach offers geographers embedded in an audit-oriented academy one means to political engagement while at the same time generating rigorous, ‘publishable outputs’.