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Kate Hennessy


January 6, 2016

Congratulations to Thomas D. Blakely, 2015 SVA Lifetime Achievement Award Winner

January 6, 2016 | By | No Comments

The Society for Visual Anthropology’s Lifetime Achievement Award for 2015 has been awarded to Thomas Dustin Blakely. He received his Ph.D. from Northwestern University in 1981 and was a founding member of the SVA, serving as its President and its representative on the American Anthropological Association Executive Board in 1986 and 1987. He has done six years of ethnographic fieldwork (including 60,000 photographs, hundreds of research films and audio recordings) in Central Africa among Báhêmbá in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. He is the organizer and master of ceremony of the Visual Research Conference from its inception in 1985 through the present time. Professor Blakely provides a collegial setting for these Conferences that has inspired and assisted students and professionals for the last 30 years. The presentations are works-in-progress, and many of them have subsequently been published (Scherer 2012). No one has been more dedicated to the teaching of visual anthropology than Professor Blakely. His nurturing of students where he is currently teaching at Albright College and the Berks Campus of Penn State University (where he won the Outstanding Teacher Award in 2006), and previously at Brigham Young University and Temple University, is evidence of this dedication. He has published works in visual semiotics, proxemics, and gesture; ethnographic photography and film; religion in Africa; and African arts and performance. His contributions to SVA have also included serving several times each as AAA Program Chair for SVA, as juror for the SVA Film Festival, and SVA Anthropology Newsletter editor, as well as publishing a directory of visual anthropologists’ research and filmmaking, which includes a valuable history of the predecessors of the society.

Selected works:

Blakely, Thomas D. 1983. “To Gaze or Not to Gaze: Visual Communication in Eastern Zaïre”, in Richard Bauman and Joel Sherzer, eds., Case Studies in the Ethnography of Speaking, pp. 234-248. Austin: Southwest Educational Development Laboratory.

Thomas D. Blakely, 1989. “PIEF, SAVICOM, SVA: North America Visual Anthropology Organizations 1966-1989,” Directory of Visual Anthropology, Washington, D.C.: American Anthropological Association/Society for Visual Anthropology.

Blakely, Thomas D. and Pamela A. R. Blakely 1987. “So’o Masks and Hêmbá Funerary Festival”, African Arts 20(1):30-37, 84-86.

Blakely, Thomas D. and Pamela A.R. Blakely, 1989. Directory of Visual Anthropology. Washington, D.C.: American Anthropological Association/Society for Visual Anthropology.

Blakely, Thomas D. and Eliot Elisofon 1974. African Carving: A Dogon Kanaga Mask [film]. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard Film Study Center. Distributed by Phoenix Films and Documentary Educational Films.

Blakely, Thomas D. and Joan Swayze Williams, eds. Anthropological Excellence in Film: Ten Years of Award Winners in the SVA/AAA Film and Video Festival.Arlington, Virginia: Society for Visual Anthropology/American Anthropological Association.

Blakely, Thomas D., Walter E A van Beek, Dennis L Thomson, eds. 1994. Religion in Africa: Experience and Expression. London: James Currey, Portsmouth, N.H.: Heinemann.

Blakely, Pamela A.R. and Thomas D. Blakely, 1994. “Ancestors, ‘Witchcraft’, and Foregrounding the Poetic: Men’s Oratory and Women’s Song-Dance in Hêmbá Funerary Performance”. In Thomas D. Blakely, et al, 1994. Religion in Africa: Experience and Expression: 398-442.

Heider, Karl. G., Pamela A.R. Blakely, Thomas D. Blakely, Seeing Anthropology: Cultural Anthropology through film, 4th edition. Boston: Allyn & Bacon/Pearson, 2007

Kendon, Adam and Thomas D. Blakely, eds. 1986. Approaches to Gestures, special issue of Semiotica 62(1,2).

Scherer, Joanna 2012. “The Society for Visual Anthropology’s Visual Research Conference: The First Twenty-Four Years (1985-2008). Visual Anthropology Review, vol. 28 (2), Fall.

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